PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A new warning from Philadelphia’s Department of Health about a COVID-19 outbreak at the CityReach Philly Church in Tacony. The health department says nine members of the church from at least five different households have tested positive for the coronavirus. Officials believe the numbers will increase.
The outbreak is at the CityReach Philly Church on Torresdale Avenue. Of the nine members who tested positive, the first showed symptoms as early as Aug. 6.
In-person services were suspended Aug. 13.
Health officials say anyone who attended services at that church in August should consider themselves exposed and quarantine for two weeks.
The church outbreak was identified through a normal health department investigation and contact tracing — something Philadelphia’s health commissioner hopes will be streamlined through the launch of an upcoming phone app.
“Our contact tracing right now includes people calling someone with infection, having them remember their contacts and then give us the phone numbers of those contacts and then we make those phone calls to those contacts,” Dr. Thomas Farley said. “That’s great for the people that they tell us about, but there may be people that they were unaware who they were exposed or maybe even strangers that were nearby, and this exposure notification app might be able to assist in that.”
The church said in a statement, “While we cannot say with certainty where the source of any individual infection began, we as a church have taken extreme measures to protect the health of those who worship at CityReach.”
Religious services in Philadelphia are currently limited to 25 people. Singing is not allowed because it increases the risk of spreading the virus.