Officials fear COVID-19 outbreak from Dover church’s services, conferences

Coronavirus test sample

U.S. Army Capt. Kevin Messamer, a medical operations officer, prepares test samples from a mobile laboratory on May 4, 2020. (Jacqueline Marshall/U.S. Air National Guard)

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As of Monday, Delaware has reported 14,406 coronavirus cases and 579 related deaths. Currently, 63 people are hospitalized, with 18 in critical condition.

State officials are urging members of the Destiny Christian Church in Dover and anyone who attended conferences there over the last two weekends to get tested after three congregants contracted the virus.

Two of the members attended recent services at Destiny before learning they were infected and potentially exposed other members, Division of Public Health officials said.

Officials singled out for testing anyone who attended the three-day Life Conference 2020 event that ended Sunday and the Prophetic Conference from July 17 through July 19. Each of the events attracted a few hundred people to Destiny, located near Dover High School, “potentially increasing the risk of exposure and transmission of the virus to others,’’ public health’s Andrea Wojcik said.

To assist congregants and conference attendees, free coronavirus testing will be offered Tuesday at the church from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pre-registration at www.delaware.curativ.com is encouraged but not required.

“Knowing your COVID-19 status is one of the most important things you can do to prevent spread of the virus,” said public health director Dr. Karyl Ratta said.

“Based on the timing of when the positive individuals received their test results, their last exposures to others in the congregation, and the large weekend events, we strongly recommend anyone who has been at this church over the last two to three weeks get tested.

“Doing so will help us identify any additional positives and ensure that those individuals are self-isolating at home to prevent further spread of the disease in our community.”

WHYY’s calls to church pastors Dale and LuAnne Mast were not immediately returned. Destiny’s Facebook page describes it as a “growing, thriving, multi-racial, non-denominational, Bible-believing church.”

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