DENVER – The Colorado ministry organization that sued Gov. Jared Polis over limits on religious gatherings because of the pandemic hosted an event over the summer in defiance of public health orders that led to as many as 63 confirmed coronavirus cases and one death, state records show.
The summer family Bible conference hosted around July 4 by Andrew Wommack Ministries brought people from around the country and caused a small surge in virus cases in the state.
“The (July) event resulted in the largest outbreak in Teller County,” state attorneys wrote in a Sunday court filing.
About 800 to 1,000 people attended the conference, which the organization says still represents less than half the capacity of the 3,200 seat worship center.
The state had sent Wommack a cease-and-desist order as a result of the event.
The ministry organization sued the state ahead of its upcoming Pastor’s Conference that was scheduled to start Monday. Wommack and his ministry attempted to exempt the organization from what it argues is an unconstitutional 175-person cap on religious events. The Pastor’s Conference was expected to draw more than 600 attendees from around the country.
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the ministry’s request on Monday. A U.S. District Court judge similarly denied the organization’s request last week. The overall lawsuit is still pending, The Denver Post reported.
There have been 73,537 confirmed cases and 1,968 deaths from the coronavirus in Colorado since the start of the pandemic, according to the state Department of Public Health and Environment.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.