Charlotte church linked to largest county COVID-19 outbreak reaches agreement to reopen

United House of Prayer released statement on COVID-19 outbreak

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A Charlotte church that hosted an event which led to the largest COVID-19 outbreak in Mecklenburg County has reached an agreement to reopen all its locations.

Mecklenburg County health officials announced Friday that there are now 181 people within four counties in the WBTV viewing area who have tested positive for the virus in connection with an event held at one of the church’s locations.

According to officials with the United House of Prayer for All People, the church has come to an agreement with the Mecklenburg County Public Health Department to reopen all 11 of the United House of Prayer’s churches in Mecklenburg County.

Mecklenburg County officials say the church has the go-ahead to reopen with capacity restrictions, cleaning and providing hand-sanitizing stations.

The agreement is reportedly effective immediately.

Mecklenburg health officials originally issued an abatement order against a church prohibiting gatherings through Nov. 5, 2020.

Now, there is an amended and modified Abatement of Imminent Hazard Order for the church.

The amended order outlines site-specific abatement measures for each church facility based on site specific reduced occupancy limits.

“This is a great result for the United House of Prayer and for religious freedom and expression throughout Mecklenburg County,” said Apostle Ronnie White, pastor of the United House of Prayer’s Church located at 2321 Beatties Ford Road in Charlotte, N.C. “Our congregants and members are looking forward to participating in daily services starting today, and we and our leader, Bishop C.M. Bailey, are thrilled to welcome them back into God’s House.”

Officials say the church worked closely with county officials over the past week to address the county’s concerns as to conditions at church’s 11 locations in Mecklenburg County.

The church says the two sides came to an agreement Thursday morning, Oct. 30, as to a way forward to reopen the churches.

“We would like to thank the inspectors and staff from the County for the advice they’ve given us with regard to our churches and facilities,” said Apostle White. “We very much appreciate the efforts and cooperation of Director Harris and everyone from the Department of Public Health, and we are pleased that this situation was resolved amicably.”

Health officials say that 172 Mecklenburg County residents, along with four residents in Iredell and Gaston counties, and one in Cabarrus County who were connected to the convocation event from Oct. 4-11 at The United House of Prayer for All People on Beatties Ford Road were confirmed to have tested positive.

Health officials say there could be more cases because some test results may not be completed, while others have refused to get tested.

The church event had guests from all across the state, region and country,

Health officials say they have notified several local health departments in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, New Jersey and New York to monitor for potential cases connected to these events.

The convocation events were attended by people from California, District of Columbia, Georgia, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and South Carolina.

In addition, there have been six coronavirus-related deaths -- five from Mecklenburg County and one from Gaston County.

A coronavirus cluster at Madison Saints Paradise South Senior Living is also linked to the convocation event. Health officials say there are 19 confirmed cases at the facility – 16 residents and three staff. There has also been one case at White Oak Manor Assisted Living Facility.

Public Health has attempted to contact at least 262 close contacts of confirmed cases linked to the event.

The United House of Prayer for All People on Beatties Ford Road was holding an annual gathering the weekend of Oct. 10, according to county commissioner and church member Vilma Leake. The events were held Oct. 4-11.

Health officials urge anyone who attended events at the church Oct. 4 - Oct. 11 or who has been in contact with someone who attended events at the church to get tested immediately.

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