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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

Many still attend indoor Awaken Church service despite public health advisory

The County of San Diego issued a public health advisory for Awaken Church on Saturday, but that didn't stop some from in-person worship on Sunday.

SAN DIEGO — A public health advisory has been issued for the Awaken Church in San Diego after a COVID-19 outbreak was identified at the church. Services were still held Sunday at the Balboa Avenue location despite the warning from the San Diego County Public Health Department.

San Diego County is still under purple tier coronavirus restrictions and now the health officials said there’s been an outbreak at Awaken Church and members are at risk of contracting and spreading the virus.   

The County of San Diego issued a public health advisory for Awaken Church on Saturday, but that didn’t deter the church’s members from worshipping together Sunday morning. The service was also available online.

After at least three people were confirmed to have contracted coronavirus, health officials asked anyone who attended services there between November 15 and November 22 to quarantine for 14 days after their last date of exposure.

Health officials said they took this rare step at Awaken Church because they were not able to identify and notify everyone that was exposed nor were they able to ensure proper measures were taken to stop the virus from spreading.

“I know we’re in a season of COVID and masks and restrictions and threats and cease and desists orders and crazy election results, but God wants you to know I am the champion of this world. You stay with me [then] you’re invincible. You’re unstoppable. So, let’s pray,” one of the churches staff members said during the live streamed service Sunday morning.  

Last month, a federal appeals court decided 2 to 1 to uphold Governor Newsom’s restrictions on holding indoor worship, said the health orders did not discriminate against religious expression.

Health experts across the state say adhering to the restrictions is the best option to keep people safe.

“The public health rules, we all know. We just have to enforce them. As we get closer to a vaccine, the more we enforce them, the more lives that are going to be saved,” said Dr. David Argus, a Professor of Medicine at USC.

People are also weighing in about the church on social media. One person commented that everyone should be responsible for their own health without needing restrictions, while others said it’s irresponsible for the church to continue to hold indoor services.

News 8 reached out to County and health officials Sunday to find out why the San Diego church is still gathering indoors for worship. We have yet to get a response as of Sunday evening. We also reached out to Awaken Church by phone and email for this story but they too did not respond as of Sunday night.