The Brooks Pentecostal Church in Waldo County was closed Sunday morning, after state health officials said they had detected an outbreak at the church. Credit: Bill Trotter / BDN

BELFAST, Maine — The pastor of Brooks Pentecostal Church, which is tied to at least 32 COVID-19 cases, works as a security services supervisor at Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast. 

A hospital spokesperson declined to confirm his employment there, but an individual working in its security department on Monday said Matthew Shaw, who heads the church in Brooks that’s at the epicenter of the state’s latest outbreak, was out of the office and would return next week. 

No new cases have been linked to Waldo County General, but the facility has taken steps to prevent the spread of the virus since its onset in March, a spokesperson said. 

It’s unclear whether Shaw has tested positive for the virus, or if he may have unknowingly spread the virus at Waldo County General because Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention does not disclose information on individual cases. 

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But “case investigators and contact tracers look into all potential exposures, which would include worksites for cases and close contacts,” Robert Long, a spokesperson for Maine CDC said.

New coronavirus cases connected to Brooks Pentecostal Church and its affiliated school in Waldo County nearly doubled on Monday from the previous day.

It’s the second outbreak stemming from a church in Maine since the pandemic began in March. In August, an outbreak of at least 10 cases was reported at Calvary Baptist Church in Sanford.

People who attended Brooks Pentecostal Church or its school since Oct. 2 should monitor themselves for symptoms of the coronavirus. Officials also warned that anyone who attended a fellowship rally that the church hosted between Oct. 2 and Oct. 4 could have been exposed to the virus.  

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The church livestreamed its Oct. 4 services on its Facebook, during which a visiting pastor from Oklahoma led morning and evening services. Parishioners were sitting closely to one another in pews and not wearing face masks even as the pastor walked from the pulpit and down the main aisle within close contact of them. 

The church canceled this weekend’s Sunday service, as well as a prayer service planned for Wednesday evening.  

Multiple messages left for church officials have not been returned as of Monday.

Waldo County has had a total of 124 cases since the pandemic began in March. Statewide, Maine reported 25 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday including at least one at a school in Belfast. There were no additional deaths.

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