An outbreak of four cases of COVID-19 has been identified at Second Baptist Church in Calais, according to state health officials.
The outbreak at the church, located on Church Street in the border city’s downtown, marks the second recent COVID-19 outbreak connected to a church. Some 60 people have contracted the coronavirus following an outbreak at the Brooks Pentecostal Church in Waldo County.
The cases connected to the Second Baptist Church are among a rising number of cases in Washington County.
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A message posted on the church’s website says that all in-person services scheduled at the church next week have been canceled.
In a video posted Saturday on the church’s Facebook page, Pastor Matt Burden said he and one of his two sons tested positive for the disease, but that his wife, daughter and other son tested negative. His wife, Rachel Burden, is an ed tech at Calais Elementary School, where two students have tested positive for COVID-19 over the past week and classes have gone fully remote until Nov. 9.
Burden said he and his son have had only mild symptoms.
Earlier this month, there was an outbreak that as of Tuesday numbered 18 cases associated with the Woodland Pulp mill in nearby Baileyville. Also, an employee at Calais City Hall tested positive last week, but subsequent tests of other City Hall employees have come up negative, according to Calais City Manager Michael Ellis.
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In other church videos posted on Facebook, Burden said the church has not held in-person services since Oct. 11 because of concerns about the spread of COVID-19 in the Calais area. He said five families who attend the church have been directly affected by the church outbreak, but that it was not clear that they had contracted the disease by attending church services.
In another message posted on the church’s website earlier this month about the outbreak at the mill, church officials said they might decide to cancel in-person services. In the message, they urged members to continue maintaining social distancing and to wear face masks as much as possible before, after and during church services.
Burden said in an email that the city’s epidemiological officer is a deacon at the church “and we’ve been leaning on her advice throughout, and taking measures regarding social distancing, group size, encouraging the use of masks, etc.”
It was not clear Tuesday if anyone who works at the mill is a member of the church’s congregation.
“Please pray for our community and our church family,” Burden says in one of the videos. “This has been a disheartening week.”