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State health officials ease shutdown for church that had 181 COVID-19 cases

CHARLOTTE (AP) — Health officials on Friday eased a shutdown of a North Carolina church where a COVID-19 outbreak stemming from a week-long event led to 181 cases and six deaths.

Mecklenburg County health officials announced the decision on the same day 35 new COVID-19 cases and one additional fatality were reported from the outbreak at The United House of Prayer for All People, The Charlotte Observer reported. The church was prohibited last weekend from holding in-person gatherings at its buildings after convocation events earlier this month resulted in the outbreak.

County officials have said church leaders initially failed to comply with public health protocols and refused to help contact tracers identify who attended church events, which kept investigators from potentially containing viral spread.

On Friday, in their first public comments since the outbreak, church leaders praised the county’s decision in a statement and said they were “excited and thankful to be able worship the Lord and do so together.”

The modified order, effective immediately, allows nearly a dozen House of Prayer locations in Mecklenburg County to reopen with capacity limits. Church leaders said they will keep the flagship location closed until Nov. 5.

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