JCHD Admin Explains Decision Not to Disclose Outbreak Sources

Jun 9, 2020

A recent COVID-19 outbreak in Jackson County was connected to a church that held services during the stay-at-home order

The Jackson County Health Department would not confirm the identity of the church when asked. Administrator Bart Hagston said that more than 50 cases were connected to that outbreak.

”We had over 50 cases related to one specific church that was meeting in person in Jackson County. And so that would be some church members and then some of their people that they contacted, so people that live in their same home or people they encountered at work,” he said.

Regarding specific behaviors that might have led to the outbreak, Hagston said it can be attributed to a lack of social distancing during the worship service. He said the Jackson County Health Department is offering guidelines for churches that are opening up, now that the prohibition on worship services has been lifted, which can be found on their website.

Hagston noted that the Jackson County Health Department is releasing more information than other public health organizations but added they won't unnecessarily name facilities connected with outbreaks.

“So Jackson County health department's is revealing a lot more information than most other local health departments. So I am comfortable with the amount of information we're putting out there. We are doing what is necessary to communicate that this disease is still being spread and to educate people on the precautions they should take. But without unnecessarily naming facilities where outbreaks might be occurring,” said Hagston.

Hagston also declined to comment on any specific consequences the church may have faced.

“Largely the consequences for a church or a business that doesn't follow guidance, really, in the end comes down to their church members or their business employees missing work if they get sick, potentially a lot of people from that facility being placed on quarantine, which impacts their business,” Hagston said.

Hagston says the church outbreak was followed by another, smaller outbreak of about 20 cases connected to an adult birthday party held in Jackson County. He reminds people that while the state is opening up, the coronavirus pandemic is far from over.

“I think it's important that people be aware that just because you're going somewhere where there are familiar people, and it might be a somebody's home that you're used to be and doesn't mean that you can fully protect yourself from from getting COVID,” Hagston said.