‘Several Hill Country churches’ had COVID-19 outbreaks, Llano County health leaders say

Hill Country

LLANO COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — The Llano County Health Authority confirmed to KXAN there have been COVID-19 outbreaks at several churches in the county. The cases ranged in size from several individuals in a praise team to one church with almost 30 positive people.

For Liz Belinoski, mask-wearing is optional at the church she attends on Sunday.

“At our own personal church if you want to wear a mask, you can, if you want to distance, you can. We’re not going to judge you. If you don’t want to wear a mask that’s your choice too,” Belinoski said. 

She said her church was not one of the Llano County Churches that had an outbreak. But this month the county health authority called several local churches reinforcing the need to wear masks, social distance and take special measures for singing during services, as doctors say there is a high rate of transmission among choirs.

At Belinoski’s church, that wasn’t a concern for her.

“It’s family units that actually do the singing, so they are already exposed to each other,” said Belinoski. 

In Llano County, there have been 188 cases—150 have recovered and a little over 30 are active cases, according to the latest numbers verified by the state. Three people have died from COVID-19 in Llano County. 

KXAN checked the numbers since the start of the pandemic and found a spike in cases in July. The number later decreased but slowly went back up in October.   

“In general we are moving forward, we are living our life, we know that we are blessed to be in a small community, and I think we are being really smart about it,” said Llano County resident Amanda Andrews.

Andrews also says masking is a personal preference at many places around the county, including the churches she’s visited. 

She’s getting a COVID-19 test next week ahead of a family visit, but she, like Belinoski, says the focus is on life—not the virus. 

KXAN reached out to the county health authority to identify what churches experienced the outbreaks, how many people were affected and when. We are awaiting a response back.

Meanwhile, Gov. Greg Abbott’s COVID-19 mandates do not include churches. There are no occupancy limits for religious services. 

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