SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — After new data released this week showed a large chunk of confirmed coronavirus cases in Sacramento County were linked to church gatherings, Gov. Gavin Newsom had a stern message to deliver.
“With all do respect, it’s essential that we practice physical distancing everywhere. Period. Full stop,” Newsom said.
The comment came after Gov. Newsom was asked at his daily update on Thursday about if his office was looking into any churches that are staying open amid the coronavirus pandemic that has forced all other gatherings to cease.
On Wednesday, Sacramento County public health officials reported that about one-third of the confirmed coronavirus cases they’ve documented had been linked to church gatherings.
Then on Thursday, the Sacramento Bee published a report naming one local church as an epicenter of a major coronavirus outbreak.
Newsom noted that he wasn’t aware of any ongoing enforcement of the social distancing guidelines against churches still having gatherings, but enforcement wasn’t off the table.
“I would highly encourage anyone that is not practicing physical distancing to reconsider it,” Newsom said.
Sacramento County’s church-linked coronavirus outbreak comes amid a larger discussion going on nationwide about how places of worship are dealing with the pandemic. In Florida, a pastor was arrested earlier this week for hosting packed services at his church in the face of orders banning gatherings of more than 10 people.
Newsom said the state would first look to local leaders to enforce the social distancing directive.
“To the extent they refuse, we will apply social pressure,” Newsom said. “And to the extent possible, we will advance additional enforcement.”
As of early Thursday afternoon, Sacramento County public health officials say they have documented 341 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 9 deaths from the disease.