CENTRAL, La. - A Louisiana church attracted more than 1,800 people to their Sunday service, despite warnings from health officials to practice social distancing.
WGMB reports that 26 buses picked people up from around the Baton Rouge Area and transported them to Life Tabernacle Chruch in the town of Central for Sunday service.
Despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warning the public to practice social distancing to stop the spread of coronavirus, the parishioners could be seen gathered closely together -- very few wearing masks or gloves.
Pastor Tony Spell said the healing hand of Jesus is how the pandemic should be handled.
"That is our command. 'They shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover,'" Spell told WGMB. “When the paramedics can’t get there, when the law enforcement can’t get there, the holy ghost can get there it will make a difference in someone’s life."
He said if anyone in his congregation is infected with COVID-19, he will heal them through God.
"I'm going to address that by laying hands on them and praying for them and depending on God to heal their body," Spell said.
The governor of Louisiana discouraged people from joining large gatherings of people, and called on the heads of churches to not hold services for big groups.
“I would urge that faith leaders and all faith leaders to heed this directive and not necessarily engage in mass gatherings where this coronavirus can spread,” Gov. John Edwards said.
Edwards issued a "stay at home" order, though Pastor Spell says he plans to not abide by it.
"This order is not something I take lightly, but it is necessary to protect the health, safety and well-being of our people, our communities and our way of life," the governor tweeted.
If you feel sick:
The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.
CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know
AROUND THE WORLD: CoronavirusNOW.com
Map of known COVID-19 cases: