Grace Community Church, the Los Angeles-area megachurch that re-opened in defiance of coronavirus-related lockdowns, is pushing back against what media are claiming is an "outbreak" originating at the church.
What are media claiming?
Multiple Los Angeles-area news outlets claimed last week that a COVID-19 "outbreak" is happening at the church, framing the story around the church's defiance to lockdown orders.
The Los Angeles Times reported, "Coronavirus outbreak strikes L.A. megachurch that defied public health orders."
Local news station KTLA-TV reported, "Coronavirus outbreak strikes defiant Sun Valley megachurch that held indoor services despite public health orders."
What's the truth?
According to attorneys for the church, the "outbreak" is actually just three confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Jenna Ellis, an attorney for Grace Community Church, called the stories "grossly misleading" meant to incite "fear-mongering" against the church.
"Three very mild positive tests among more than 7,000 people is hardly news. 0.04% is not an 'outbreak.' The LA Times and others' grossly misleading and fear-mongering headlines aim to mischaracterize Grace Community Church as irresponsible and a superspreader," Ellis said, the Daily Wire reported.
She added, "It has never been the Church's position that it is only safe to hold services if no one ever tests positive, or for example, if no one ever gets the flu during flu season. Our position has been that LA County shutting down churches indefinitely amid a virus with a 99.98% survival rate, especially when state-preferred businesses are open and protests are held without restriction, is unconstitutional and harmful to the free exercise of religion."
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed to both the Los Angeles Times and KTLA that the "outbreak" was just three COVID-19 cases.
More from the LA Times:
Under the county health officer's order, places of worship must report to the county Public Health Department when at least three coronavirus cases are identified among staff or worshipers within a span of 14 days so the agency can determine whether there is an outbreak.
Grace Community Church is locked in a heated legal battle with Los Angeles authorities.
The church continues to hold indoor worship services in defiance of a ruling by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, which ordered the church to stop holding indoor services.
The city has asked a judge to hold the church in contempt of court, according to the LA Times.