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Ohio churchgoer with COVID-19 infects 91 others as state struggles to contain spread of virus

"It spread like wildfire," Gov. Mike DeWine said on Tuesday.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — As the state of Ohio tries to fight back against the surge of recent COVID-19 cases, one of the biggest issues for Gov. Mike DeWine and his team has been containing community spread. 

A prime example of this problem was related by DeWine during his coronavirus briefing on Tuesday. On June 14, a man attended church service in state while infected with COVID-19. 

Following that service, 91 additional people from five counties developed coronavirus symptoms. "It spread like wildfire," DeWine said. "Very scary."

The governor announced that he is sending a letter to Ohio’s faith-based community to share important health information with the state's churches, synagogues, and mosques and to share ways to better protect their worshipers. 

"Our religious faiths are at the core of our great state and country.  We thank our faith-based leaders all they do to serve God and His people," DeWine said. "However, it is vital that to control the spread of the virus that any time people gather together, including for religious services, that everyone wear masks, practice social distancing, wash hands, and also while indoors, making sure there is good ventilation and airflow."

DeWine also noted that there continues to be a problem with the virus spreading during informal gatherings of friends and family. He pointed three specific examples:

A son lived with his father who was in hospice care at home. For 2 days before his father died, the son was coughing (thinking he had bronchitis) as family members visited to pay respects. Five family members later tested positive for COVID-19, including a great-nephew. Then, a party with 4 attendees was held at the great nephew’s house, and someone there also tested positive. Since then, 2 others, including a child, have tested positive, and 17 other contacts are being monitored for illness. 

There was a wedding in Ohio where the brother of the groom was symptomatic but attended the wedding and reception. Now, 15 people are sick, including the bride, groom, and grandfather.

Someone who tested positive for COVID-19 attended the bridal shower and the virus spread to several others.  There are now six confirmed cases and six households impacted by this outbreak. 

More than 1,100 new cases of coronavirus and 31 deaths were reported over the last 24 hours in the state. More than 95,000 Ohioans have been infected.

RELATED: Watch again: Gov. Mike DeWine holds briefing with the latest on the state's response to COVID-19