HOPKINS CO., Ky. (WFIE) - “Hopkins County has been hit really really hard,” said Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear on Wednesday, during his daily afternoon press briefing.
During the briefing, Gov. Beshear spoke about information he got from the Hopkins County Health Department, including a church revival, which he says happened on the weekend of March 15. He says the revival is linked to several COVID-19 cases in Hopkins County, including an epidemiological link to two COVID-19 related deaths.
“We had a church that had a preacher from Texas come to Dawson Springs on March 15 and 16 for a revival at another church," said Gov. Beshear at the Wednesday briefing. "When he left, multiple families became sick.”
14 News obtained a copy of an advertisement for a revival, with a Texas pastor that same weekend, at the Star of Bethlehem Church, a few miles outside of Dawson Springs.
14 News attempted to reach out to the Star of Bethlehem Church on Monday, March 30. Calls to both numbers listed for the church were unanswered, as was a call placed to a phone number listed for Bradley Giffin.
After our original story aired, lawyers retained for the Star of Bethlehem Church issued a statement to 14 News. You can read that below:
"Please take notice that the firm Nelson, McDonald & Shrewsbury has been retained to represent the interests of Star of Bethlehem Church, Dawson Springs, Kentucky, whose members and leadership have recently been subjected to unjust criticism and both online and in-person harassment.
"On April 1st of 2020, the Governor of Kentucky based on an inaccurate report from the Hopkins County Health Department, singled out Star of Bethlehem Church during his daily press briefing for holding church services on the 15th and 16th of March and accused the Church of contributing to the spread of COVID-19 in Hopkins County, Kentucky. Star of Bethlehem Church and its members have faithfully served and ministered to the Dawson Springs, Kentucky community for 75 years. Star of Bethlehem had church services scheduled for Sunday, March 15th through Tuesday, March 17th of 2020.
"On March 12th 2020, Jack Whitfield, Judge Executive of Hopkins County, Kentucky, stated in a Facebook briefing that he did not consider Hopkins County in a state of emergency due to the lack of cases, also stating that he was not one to overreact and panic and that if the Governor makes changes and passes information to counties they would comply. Like the majority of churches in Western Kentucky and throughout the Commonwealth, Star of Bethlehem held their regularly scheduled services on Sunday, March 15th and their specially scheduled service on Monday, March 16th.
"On March 16th of 2020, dine-in restaurants in Hopkins County were ordered to close until further notice at 5 p.m. and public schools and Madisonville Community College shut their doors. Star of Bethlehem announced the Church would not have services on the 17th of March and then cancelled the remaining services until further notice.
"On March 19th of 2020, the Governor issued an order closing all social gathering to include church services. Star of Bethlehem Church had been closed for three days. From the announcement of the pandemic, Star of Bethlehem Church has followed the Orders of both the Governor and local leaders. The Church has fully cooperated with the local health department in order to stop the spread of COVID-19 within its own walls and its greater the community.
"On March 25th, the Hopkins County Health Department requested a list of all people that could have been in contact with the confirmed cases from the church, making the church aware that members had tested positive for COVID-19. Within the hour, Star of Bethlehem returned the list of requested names to the health 6130 Brownsboro Park Blvd · Suite A · Louisville, Kentucky 40207 404 Hopkinsville Street · Princeton, Kentucky 42255 2 department. The Health Department then contacted those individuals who were in close proximity and requested they quarantine. To the church’s knowledge, all members who were asked to quarantine or self - isolate did so.
"During the Governor’s press briefing, the Governor also stated that the church had encouraged sick members to continue attending church services. This is simply not true. Star of Bethlehem has never encouraged or requested sick church members attend services. It has been rumored that the scheduled speaker, visiting from Texas, introduced COVID-19 to the church during the service and lead to the infection of community at large. This is not true. Neither the speaker nor his family reported suffering any symptoms before or during their visit, nor have they been sick since the service was conducted.
"On March 28th the Mayor of Madisonville, Kevin Cotton, communicated to a church member that someone had reached out to Star of Bethlehem prior to the revival asking them to cancel the services. This is categorically false. No one had contacted Star of Bethlehem Church asking them to cancel services prior to them occurring. Star of Bethlehem will continue to cooperate fully with local and state officials and lend any assistance possible.
"Star of Bethlehem has suffered great losses within their congregation and will continue to grieve as church members and community suffer. The Church asks for the public’s prayers during this difficult time and that the church, its members, and visiting preacher’s privacy be respected.
“Star of Bethlehem pledges to continue to serve the community of Dawson Springs during these difficult times.”
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