180 people told to quarantine after attending Butte County church service with COVID-infected person

More than 180 people who attended a Mother’s Day church service in California despite coronavirus lockdown rules against public gatherings have been told to quarantined after one of them tested positive for the virus.

The church held the service knowing that it was in breach of state guidelines brought in to stop the spread of the pandemic. 

One day after attending the church service last Sunday at the Palermo Bible Family Church, in Palermo north of Sacramento, at least one of the worshipers tested positive for coronavirus.

Pastor of the Palermo Bible Family Church Mike Jacobsen, pictured, admitted to hosting a Mother's Day church service stating he 'would never with knowledge put anyone in harms way'

Pastor of the Palermo Bible Family Church Mike Jacobsen, pictured, admitted to hosting a Mother's Day church service stating he 'would never with knowledge put anyone in harms way'

Pastor of the Palermo Bible Family Church Mike Jacobsen, pictured, admitted to hosting a Mother’s Day church service stating he ‘would never with knowledge put anyone in harms way’

The pastor posted a statement on Facebook and gave details about the person who had COVID

The pastor posted a statement on Facebook and gave details about the person who had COVID

The pastor posted a statement on Facebook and gave details about the person who had COVID

The pastor of the church Mike Jacobsen informed his followers in a Facebook posting, and insisted he did not mean to put his flock in harm’s way.  

‘I made a decision to have church on Mother’s Day with our congregation celebrating moms. One of our attendees who had no symptoms that day woke up the next morning needing medical attention on Monday the 11th, was given the test for Covid 19 and found to be positive on Wednesday the 13th. 

‘We have been working with Butte County Public Health and dismissed church services until further notice. I would never with knowledge put anyone in harms way. We love our church and feel very blessed to Pastor a great group of believers. 

‘For 7 weeks we have been kept out of our church and away from our church family. I am fully aware that some people may not understand that for our church it is essential to be together in fellowship. Blessed are the Peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.’

At least 180 people attended the church service on Mother's Day last Sunday (file photo)

At least 180 people attended the church service on Mother's Day last Sunday (file photo)

At least 180 people attended the church service on Mother’s Day last Sunday (file photo)

Pastor Mike Jacobsen defended the opening of his church: 'For 7 weeks we have been kept out of our church and away from our church family. I am fully aware that some people may not understand that for our church it is essential to be together in fellowship.'

Pastor Mike Jacobsen defended the opening of his church: 'For 7 weeks we have been kept out of our church and away from our church family. I am fully aware that some people may not understand that for our church it is essential to be together in fellowship.'

Pastor Mike Jacobsen defended the opening of his church: ‘For 7 weeks we have been kept out of our church and away from our church family. I am fully aware that some people may not understand that for our church it is essential to be together in fellowship.’

All of those who attended the service are being contacted in order to be tested for COVID-19. 

Butte County was given the all clear this week to reopen in Phase 1 and 2 of the state’s plan, however it does not allow for gatherings including church services.

Many people blasted the pastor for holding the service instead of stressing the need to shelter in place. 

‘His decision to open was a Reckless one, given the times. And the congregation wasn’t forced to arrive for service, They made a choice to be there. Personal choices in life can have consequences in many forms,’ wrote Greg Pasmore. 

‘I will say that if you are preaching from the Bible about being obedient but then lead, the very people you teach, to disobey a direct order. It’s sad to me. Lead by example,’ added Stephanie Bever. 

The Palermo Bible Family Church is located in Palermo, California near Sacramento

The Palermo Bible Family Church is located in Palermo, California near Sacramento

The Palermo Bible Family Church is located in Palermo, California near Sacramento 

‘At this time, organizations that hold in-person services or gatherings are putting the health and safety of their congregations, the general public and our local ability to open up at great risk,’ Danette York, Butte county public health director, said in a statement.

‘We all need to do our part to follow the orders and mitigation efforts so that our Reopen Butte County plan can continue to move forward. Moving too quickly through the reopening process can cause a major setback and could require us to revert back to more restrictive measures. We implore everyone to follow the State order and our reopening plan to help combat the potential spread of COVID-19.’ 

Phase 2 allows only certain businesses to reopen with modifications including dine-in restaurants, outdoor museums and shopping centers. 

Earlier in May, a federal judge agreed that California Governor Gavin Newsom’s ban on church services during the pandemic did not violate the constitutional rights to free assembly and religion. 

‘During public health crises, new considerations come to bear, and government officials must ask whether even fundamental rights must give way to a deeper need to control the spread of infectious disease and protect the lives of society’s most vulnerable,’ Judge John Mendez wrote in his ruling, according to the Los Angeles Times.  

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