Coronavirus Cases Linked to Southern Baptist Convention Meeting

Tennessee health officials say a small cluster of coronavirus infections has been linked to the June meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville, according to The Tennessean.

Epidemiologist Leslie Waller of Nashville’s Metro Public Health Department told the newspaper that about 10 infections had been found, but that the cluster was almost certainly larger. About 18,000 people attended the two-day annual meeting and then returned to their home states, the newspaper reported Friday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has asked health officials to contact the Tennessee department if they find other cases, according to The Associated Press.

Nashville had lifted its mask mandate and restrictions on large gatherings about a month before the convention, which filled the city’s indoor convention hall.

Disinclined to get vaccinated

Those who attended were not likely to have been vaccinated. A March poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 40% of white evangelical Protestants said they likely wouldn’t get vaccinated, compared with 25% of all Americans, 28% of white mainline Protestants and 27% of nonwhite Protestants.

A spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention’s executive committee said it had not told attendees about the infections but was working with health officials to determine what to do.

Infection clusters

Separately, Georgetown University researchers found clusters of coronavirus infections in 30 counties that have large populations and low vaccination rates, CNN reported Friday.

What the university researchers described as the five most significant clusters, CNN said, cover large parts of eight states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.

Coronavirus cases are rising in more than half of U.S. states, and hospitalizations are up in 17 states, with patients who are almost entirely unvaccinated, CBS News reported Saturday. About half of all new cases, 52%, are attributable to the delta variant.

“We’re seeing people that are extremely sick with it,” Dr. Greg Gardner, chief of emergency medicine at Mountain West Hospital in Tooele, Utah, told CBS. “We haven’t seen anybody that has been vaccinated.”

According to the CDC, as of Saturday, 158,954,417 Americans were fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Rolling average rises

Also on Saturday, the CDC’s seven-day rolling average showed an increase of 16% in new cases from the previous seven-day measure.

During Thursday’s weekly White House COVID Response Team briefing, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the statistics showed “two truths”: The nation’s vaccination effort is significantly driving down cases, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 from their January peaks, but the areas with the lowest vaccination rates have the highest rates of new cases and highest percentages of the more contagious delta variant of the virus.

Source: Voice of America