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Church has no plans to change services after COVID-19 outbreak in congregation

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    SALEM, Oregon (KPTV) — The Oregon Health Authority has confirmed that at least 74 people who attend or are connected to People’s Church in Salem have tested positive for COVID-19. OHA began investigating the outbreak on April 6. Scott Erickson, the senior pastor, said it was a combination of church goers and staff who contracted the virus.

“We encouraged them to get checked and to stay home and they did,” he said. “And for some reason the Marion County health department started asking people and people were calling and saying to me hey I was at the clinic and they asked me do you attend People’s Church.” Erickson and his wife, Bonnie, also tested positive for the virus and he said they are both now fully recovered. He said they have no plans to change services going forward and are complying with the state’s limit on capacity for high risk counties. Marion County just moved back into the high risk category for COVID-19 so churches are limited to 25% capacity or 150 people, whichever number is smaller.

“We have not contemplated closing or anything like that,” he said. “We have always maintained very high standards for spraying after every service and before every service.” Erickson said they do not require people to wear masks even though there is still a statewide mask mandate.

“Many of our people mask and some people don’t,” he said. “But we encourage everyone to be careful and follow their own conscience is what they should do.” Even at the start of the pandemic, the church never stopped holding in-person services, gathering outdoors for months.

“We never shut down, we never slowed, we took extra precautions back in March of 2020 when this happened and it first started breaking out,” he said. This weekend’s Mother’s Day Services will be held both in person and online.

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