Congregants exposed to coronavirus at Butte County church that defied shutdown

Officials in Butte County say that 180 people were exposed to the coroanvirus after attending a religious gathering that defied the state's stay-at-home rule on Mother's Day.

A person who attended the service at the unspecified church tested positive the following day for COVID-19, according to Butte County public health officials. That person is in home isolation, authorities said.

Attendees have been told to self-quarantine, the county said in a statement. Other media reports have said the church was in the rural town of Palermo.

“At this time, organizations that hold in-person services or gatherings are putting the health and safety of their congregations, the general public and our local ability to open up at great risk,” said Danette York, director of Butte County Public Health. "We implore everyone to follow the State order and our reopening plan to help combat the potential spread of COVID-19.”

Public gatherings at religious institutions are among the many activities that have been forbidden since Gov. Newsom imposed a stay-at-home order for California on March 15. 

Butte County, north of Sacramento, was one of the first in the state to receive permission to move into Gov. Newsom's so-called Phase 2, which allows for some retail, manufacturing and offices to reopen under certain conditions. Religious gatherings remain prohibited.