Earlier this month, 50 men attended a four-day retreat in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula held inside United Methodist Church in Pickford. Many of them were older men. All were part of a program called Keryx, which ministers primarily to prisoners.
One of the men at the retreat has now tested positive for COVID.
In a normal situation, everyone who attended the retreat would be contacted so they could self-quarantine, and tracing could begin in order to prevent the virus from spreading. But this is a country and community that doesn’t take the virus seriously, and churchgoers are especially prone to acting like the pandemic is a hoax.
And guess what? No one who attended the retreat is talking.
… Nobody in the group will cooperate with public health workers. Health departments covering five U.P. counties have been unable to learn the names of the men, or who they may have come in contact with since the retreat ended last Sunday, the officials told Bridge Michigan.
The event’s leader hung up on a contact tracer who called him. Another person who was called this week accused the health official of “working for Satan” because of her job in public health.
The article at Bridge Michigan says the church (which only hosted the event) is cooperating with authorities, but any church that allows a 50-person retreat to occur during a pandemic has already screwed up no matter how much they try to help after the fact.
The bigger issue, of course, isn’t just that these 50 men are in danger (and in denial). It’s that they may have COVID and are spreading it to people who aren’t as ignorant as they are. That includes everyone who served them during the retreat.
The local health department, given no other option, has issued a public warning hoping it’ll get through to the retreat attendees whom they can’t reach:
The whole issue boils down to Christians who refuse to take the virus seriously and would rather spread it to others than work with government officials to prevent that from happening. It’s selfish. It’s dangerous. And it’s what we’ve come to expect from people who embrace conspiracies of all stripes.