MURRAY — The Calloway County Health Department said late Thursday that a person who attended a function in Murray last weekend has tested positive for the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

Calloway County Health  Department Director of Nursing Kim Paschall said she could confirm that person with the positive test is not from Calloway County. However, everyone that was present at the function where the person attended has been asked to take measures to avoid potentially spreading the virus. 

That function, it was confirmed Thursday night, was a service last Sunday at the University Church of Christ. Senior Minister Charley Bazzell said the news took him and other church officials by surprise because extra precautions were in place that they thought should have been enough to prevent a problem. 

“We advised anyone who was not comfortable to come to stay at home and we especially urged our elderly to not get out,” Bazzell said. “We abbreviated our service to about a 30-minute time frame. We take communion or Eucharist weekly  and we usually pass (the materials for that ceremony) around the auditorium, but on Sunday we had four  individuals with latex gloves on so no one would touch the tray or anything associated with communion. It was handled individually, then people went back to their seat, so we took precautions that we felt were helpful to try and service particular people.”

Bazzell said he could not confirm or deny a report that the person who tested positive Thursday is a resident of the Nashville, Tennessee area. 

“That’s what I’m told, but as far as whether that’s true, I have no confirmation on that,” Bazzell said. “We’ve been told that a visitor was here that we did not know and we did not meet. None of us remember that individual being here.

“We only had about 150 people here and we were spaced out through the congregation per social distancing recommendations.”

Bazzell said UCC is stunned by this development.

“To be honest, we are somewhat confused with what we’ve been told because none of us remember an individual not associated with our congregation having been here,” he said. “But we are trusting what local officials are telling us and we took action to communicate to our members who were here what we were told and needed to share (from the health department).”

Paschall said everyone who attended Sunday’s service at UCC is urged to self-quarantine for 14 days from the time of exposure and monitor for signs or symptoms. Anything out of the ordinary is to be reported to the health department immediately.

“We know the visitor does not live here and we don’t know (the circumstances of how the person became infected). We are hearing that the person was not sick when they visited, that we know of,” she said. “But they became sick shortly after being here in Murray, so that’s why we’re being overcautious with this, just in case.

“There’s potential exposure, but we have contacted the leaders of (UCC) and they have been getting it out to individuals who could have potentially been exposed as to what they need to do.”

Bazzell said that services at UCC had already been canceled for the next several weeks before Thursday’s development was known. Paschall said other churches in the area will probably do the same now.

“I think after this, people are going to realize how important it is not to congregate. They don’t realize it until this happens,” she said.  

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