SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A pastor associated with Bethel Church in Redding is claiming that over 12,000 people attended a protest and worship service on the California State Capitol grounds on Sunday.
Worship pastor Sean Feucht has been holding Christian concerts across the U.S. amid the coronavirus pandemic in defiance of local orders against large gatherings.
Feucht rails against the preventive measures being taken to stop the spread of the virus, arguing that freedom of being able to practice religion is being infringed.
"Powerful politicians and social media giants have engaged in unchartered abuses of religious liberty, silencing the faithful, banning our voices, and outright attacking our God-given right to declare His goodness," Feucht writes on his website LetUsWorship.us where he live streams the concerts and urges people to sign a petition.
Thousands have attended Feucht's events, which have the vibe of a rally or concert more than a prayer service.
On Sunday, Feucht held an event on the front steps of the California State Capitol building. He claims that Capitol Police estimated about 12,000 people attended.
As could be seen in videos taken from the rally, social distancing was not enforced and many - if not most - attendees were not wearing face masks.
Infectious Disease expert, Dr. Dean Blumberg, says it's possible that there were many people at the gathering who were potentially infectious, who were either pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic, and could transmit COVID-19 to others.
"That's really a recipe for transmission and can lead to further outbreaks not only among the people who are in attendance but their contacts, too," Dr. Blumberg said.
According to California Highway Patrol's guidance for in-person protests on Capitol grounds, there is no longer a limit on how many people can attend constitutionally-protected First Amendments activities. However, strict physical distancing of a minimum of six-feet between attendees should be implemented for events.
"That's a high risk gathering, and I would recommend people self-quarantine after being in that kind of a situation," Dr. Blumberg said.
Dr. Blumberg says now is not the time to let our guard down.
"People need to realize, that there's still about 100 deaths per day in California, so we need to take this seriously or that number will increase," Dr. Blumberg said.
Dr. Blumberg says he would not recommend testing for those who attended Sunday's worship event because there is still limited capacity for testing in California, but if you develop symptoms, you should contact your doctor.
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