A Tennessee pastor posted a 20-minute video on Facebook last week apologizing to his congregation for a COVID-19 outbreak that infected countless members. In the video, the pastor expressed his deep regret for not taking masks more seriously as his church resumed in-person services.
Kelvin Page is the lead pastor at Westmore Church of God in Cleveland, Tennessee. During the initial outbreak of COVID-19, his church held eight weeks of parking lot services. In late May, the church decided to resume in-person worship in accordance with local and state health regulations.
Page felt his church had a “great handle” on the virus, taking the necessary precautions of screening, sanitation, and social distancing. After holding services for about three weeks, Page said not a single member reported an infection. But once Father’s Day rolled around, everything changed.
“Somehow the virus made it into the choir. Temperatures were taken that morning, yet it still slipped through,” Page said.
“We had heard a few days prior that there was an uptick in the county, but with the precautions that we had been taking, along with the fact that we knew of no one that had been diagnosed with the virus, we honestly believed that we were OK. Little did I know, it was invading that morning.”
In Page’s apology video, he admitted that he didn’t take wearing face masks as seriously as he should have. It’s the one thing he regrets regarding the coronavirus outbreak at his church.
“The thing I most did not give attention to, and I have to say this, was masks. I’ll have to say today that masks must be considered by everyone, but especially those that are vulnerable. Perhaps when we all wear masks, the vulnerable are less likely to be vulnerable. So that is something that we have got to really take seriously,” Page said.
When asked what the total number of infections was, Page said he couldn’t give an accurate estimate. While there were initially 12 confirmed cases within the church, that number has increased exponentially. Page says it’s nearly impossible to track.
“Some people are going to think that I am hiding or hiding numbers. The truth of the matter is, we knew we had 12 confirmed,” he said. “Then we knew that we had several more confirmed even after that. Then it began to roll out and I don’t honestly know how many we have.”
Page also said it’s too difficult to determine whether people contracted the virus at the church or out in the community.
“We don’t know how many actually contracted the virus at Westmore,” Page informed. “You can assume or people can assume. We have had some of our own people who have contracted it and said, ‘I really don’t know if I contracted it at Westmore. I was in such and such a place.’ We don’t know exactly. We know there are a lot of people and too many people.”