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Coronavirus Cluster Linked To Windham, NH Church

WINDHAM, NH (CBS) - Dozens of worried people took advantage of a pop-up COVID-19 testing site in New Hampshire Monday evening as state health officials tried to get a better handle on a cluster there.

That long swab that goes through the nose into the back of the throat won't likely be their best memory of the day, but a group of bingo playing seniors all went to get tested.

"I feel wonderful," said bingo lover Paula Moore. "I really practice distancing and the mask and everything, but I just want to make sure."

That's because their bingo games are held at the Windham Crossing Life Church, where 16 people have now tested positive for COVID-19 -- including several that church member Paula Baker knows.

Coronavirus test
Coronavirus testing site in Windham, NH (WBZ-TV)

"We all like to hug normally," she said, "but that's not happening now. So it's different. As soon as people knew they quarantined -- which I appreciated."

But to short circuit a possible cluster, state health officials set up a field testing site in the parking lot Monday evening, and urged anyone who had attended a church event since July 10 to stop by.

"I'm definitely concerned," said Zeke Gable. Gable, along with his wife and young son, all went to a friend's wedding there.

"Just in case we're asymptomatic carriers," he said. "We decided the consistent thing to do was get tested."

New Hampshire hasn't had any restrictions on gathering size for roughly six weeks, and a lot of the concern at the church stems from a "Youthstorm" camp event on July 16, 17, and 18.

"This was a large gathering," said Mark Samsel, who often works in the Windham Community Garden just across the parking lot.

"Unfortunately it is what it is in hindsight," he said. "Live free or die. This is New Hampshire. Absolutely."

Of course, the Granite State has fewer total cases than Massachusetts has deaths -- and has only two dozen patients currently hospitalized with the virus.

None-the-less, a cluster is a spike, and so many folks here are leaning on an old cliché. "I'd rather be safe than sorry," said bingo player Diane Brousseau.

There will be some suspense, though, because these are the tests where the results take days days -- not minutes.


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