(30 Mar 2020) FOR CLEAN VERSION SEE STORY NUMBER: apus133239
Hundreds of worshippers attended services at a Louisiana church on Sunday, flouting a ban on large gatherings, angering neighbors and seemingly turning a deaf ear to their governor, who once again warned that hospitals could soon be overwhelmed with new cases of the coronavirus.
An estimated 500 people of all ages filed inside the mustard-yellow and beige Life Tabernacle Church in Central, a city of nearly 29,000 outside Baton Rouge.
Assistant ministers and worshippers who stood outside the front doors and in the parking lot of Life Tabernacle told news reporters to leave, saying cameras would not be allowed on the property and they had been told not to talk to the news media. They went inside without further comment.
Briefly commenting Sunday in the church's parking lot, Timothy Spell, father of Pastor Tony Spell, said Life Tabernacle has a right to assembly, is not forcing anyone to attend services, is not breaking any laws and will continue to hold services at the church.
More than 3,500 Louisiana residents have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, and more than 150 of them have died, according to state figures released Sunday.
Joseph Kanter, assistant state health officer for the Louisiana Department of Health, says assembling for church in person is not worth the risk with the unpredictability of the virus.
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Apr 4, 2020