Churches, Coronavirus, and the New York Times

Describing churches as a “major source of Coronavirus cases” is odd, since that’s not even the case their own article makes.

The New York Times just published an article with this headline: "Churches Were Eager to Reopen. Now They Are a Major Source of Coronavirus Cases."

Headlines are chosen by editors, and don’t always tell the whole story, of course.

However, the lede continues: "The virus has infiltrated Sunday services, church meetings and youth camps. More than 650 cases have been linked to reopened religious facilities."

The Drudge Report now links to the article with the ominous headline, “Churches Now Major Source of Spread…

As someone who has strongly advocated for churches to take COVID seriously, and whose church is not yet meeting, this article seems to tell a different story than its title.

For example, they report:

More than 650 coronavirus cases have been linked to nearly 40 churches and religious events across the United States since the beginning of the pandemic, with many of them erupting over the last month as Americans resumed their pre-pandemic activities, according to a New York Times database.

That’s 650 since the beginning of the pandemic. There are now 3 million people infected.

Furthermore, there were 60,000 cases each of the past two days in America. That's almost 100 times the 650 case that the NYT reports in churches for since the beginning of the pandemic.

The article does have some good and insightful reporting. However, there are several unhelpful parts, even beyond the headline.

Let me unpack some of the obvious issues with the article.

First, churches have cooperated.

Churches have been remarkable partners in the fight again the coronavirus, with the vast majority closing their gatherings all around the country. Yes, there have been a few outliers, but their paucity …

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