By Staff

WOBURN (CBS) — At least 44 people have tested positive for coronavirus after they attended church for Christmas. The gatherings were on Dec. 23 and Dec. 24  at 5 and 7 p.m. at GENESIS in Woburn.

“We are deeply saddened to learn that people within GENESIS tested positive for COVID-19 and we are doing all we can to make sure this does not spread any further.  Every individual who attended Christmas Eve at GENESIS has been contacted and made aware of the situation as well as being encouraged, whether symptomatic or not, to get tested for COVID-19,” Pastor Michael Davis told WBZ-TV.

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He also said they are working with the Woburn Board of Health.

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The church required attendees to RSVP to the gatherings. The average attendance was 105 per service, which was 35% of the building’s occupancy, Davis said. Each service lasted one hour and a cleaning occurred in between them. Masks were worn unless individuals were speaking on stage. “Social distancing was encouraged and practiced, hand sanitizing stations were available throughout the facility, and we had an entire team of volunteers dedicated to cleaning high-touch surfaces throughout both evenings, especially between services.  People not in family units were seated six feet apart and the distance from the front row to our stage is 16 feet per state requirements,” Davis said.

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After five positive cases, David said they reached out to the entire church community. Staff