Health officials: Church had COVID ‘outbreak’

Published 10:29 am Wednesday, June 17, 2020

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Jessamine County Public Health Director Randy Gooch and Dr. Steve Davis, the Health Department’s physician, disagree with Pastor Jeff Fugate’s assertion that there was “no outbreak” at his Clays Mill Baptist Church during three Sundays in May when it resumed indoor worship services.

Fugate told The Journal last week there was no way of knowing whether any of the 18 members of his congregation who tested positive for the coronavirus got it by going to church May 17 or 24, or at a service for staff members and their families May 10.

But, Gooch doesn’t think the spike in cases involving church members is just coincidence.

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“Obviously, we’ve got an outbreak,” he said. “It’s highly probable that the exposures occurred there.”

The church at 1220 Brannon Road is near the Fayette County line and has members from both counties. Gooch said 10 of those with the virus were from Jessamine and eight were from Fayette.

“We do what we need to do,” Gooch said, to trace who those with infections and “see where it leads.”

“He was obviously concerned,” Gooch said of Fugate, and took necessary steps to contain the virus by shutting down indoor services after so many of his congregants came down with the virus, and cooperated with public health officials. “I commend him for it.”

Davis said that whenever someone tests positive for the virus that causes the illness COVID-19, a team of contact tracers who are epidemiologists, work to see whom that person has been connected to so that they, too, can be tested.

The doctor said that after about three positive tests, he called Fugate, who took the initiative to stop all in-person gatherings at the church.

Davis did say there were a few members of the church who tested positive who had not attended services, but most did.

“There is no question that there his a connection to the church services,” he said.

About Randy Patrick

Randy Patrick is a reporter for Bluegrass Newsmedia, which includes The Jessamine Journal. He may be reached at 859-759-0015 or by email at

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