Grace Community Church, an evangelical congregation in Los Angeles led by Pastor John MacArthur, was cleared by county public health officials after three members came down with COVID-19 last month.
“We are glad to announce that we received a notice from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on Thursday, November 12, saying that we have been cleared of COVID-19 outbreak,” the church said in a statement last week. “After a thorough investigation, Public Health officials have decided to rescind all outbreak related requirements and restrictions on Grace Community Church.”
Houses of worship must report to the county Public Health Department when at least three positive COVID-19 cases emerge among either staff or congregants in order to assist the government in containing a potential outbreak.
MacArthur drew attention in July when he and the church elders decided to reopen their church in defiance of local and state orders forbidding in-person worship in the name of curtailing COVID-19.
“It has never been the church’s position that it is only safe to hold services if no one ever tests positive, or for example, if no one ever gets the flu during flu season,” said Jenna Ellis, an attorney with the Thomas More Society who is representing the church. “Our position has been that LA County shutting down churches indefinitely amid a virus with a 99.98% survival rate, especially when state-preferred businesses are open and protests are held without restriction, is unconstitutional and harmful to the free exercise of religion.”
The Los Angeles Times reported last month that the church had experienced an “outbreak” after three people had come down with COVID-19.
As The Daily Wire reported:
The Los Angeles church that has been legally wrangling with county government over COVID-19 lockdowns saw three confirmed cases among its congregation of roughly 7,000, public health officials said Thursday.
Grace Community Church, which made headlines in July when senior pastor John MacArthur and the church elders reopened their doors in defiance of state and local lockdown orders, are working together with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Ellis pushed back against the idea that three cases in a congregation of more than 7,000 constituted an “outbreak.” She said in a statement at the time:
Three very mild positive tests among more than 7,000 people is hardly news. 0.04% is not an “outbreak.” The LA Times and others’ grossly misleading and fear-mongering headlines aim to mischaracterize Grace Community Church as irresponsible and a superspreader. It has never been the Church’s position that it is only safe to hold services if no one ever tests positive, or for example, if no one ever gets the flu during flu season. Our position has been that LA County shutting down churches indefinitely amid a virus with a 99.98% survival rate, especially when state-preferred businesses are open and protests are held without restriction, is unconstitutional and harmful to the free exercise of religion.
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