California megachurch pastor Greg Laurie, who attended the Sept. 26 White House nomination ceremony for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, has announced that he has tested positive for COVID-19.
Other prominent evangelical pastors who attended the event in which several other attendees have since tested positive for coronavirus say they have tested negative.
Laurie, the 67-year-old author and senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship, told the Christian Broadcasting Network Monday that he has the coronavirus. At first, he said, the symptoms started with fatigue, aches, pains and fever. He added that his sense of taste has been affected.
"Then I found out the news that I didn't want to find out that I have the coronavirus," Laurie explained.
He assured he is OK and now in quarantine.
"I just wish that at a time like this we could not politicize this and show compassion to people that are struggling with this. It's real," Laurie stressed as much has been made in the media about attendees of the White House event contracting the virus. "It really is a pandemic that's swept our nation and even the world."
"If the president of the United States can get it, obviously anybody can get it," he added. "But with God's help and your prayers, I expect to get through this."
Laurie’s positive test result comes as at least eight other attendees have tested positive for COVID-19 since attending the White House Rose Garden event that was attended by over 100 people. President Donald Trump, as well as the First Lady Melania Trump, are among the attendees at the event who have since tested positive.
Laurie also attended Franklin Graham's prayer rally held in Washington, D.C. that same weekend.
Skip Heitzig, the pastor of the 15,000-member Calvary Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico, said that he has tested negative for the coronavirus, despite being pictured in several photos released by the White House sitting on the side of the lawn where Kellyanne Conway and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were also seated.
Both Conway and Christie tested positive for the virus as well as Notre Dame President John I. Jenkins, who was also seated close to the New Mexico preacher. Photos indicate that many attendees were not wearing masks.
Calvary Church Chief Pastoral Officer Neil Ortiz confirmed with The Christian Post that a second test Heitzig took on Saturday (Oct. 3) also came back negative.
"[N]ot only has Pastor Skip been tested twice since the Saturday of the event with a negative result each time, he feels great and is not experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19," Ortiz stated.
"Also, many others who were also present at the announcement have since been tested with negative results. In fact, there are far more that have reported negative test results than those who’ve reported a positive result."
Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, who was also in attendance said he has not tested positive.
"I’m not sick. I’m fine. … I exercised every day this week and flew to Atlanta to speak with the vice president on Wednesday,” Graham was quoted as telling his congregation. “I worked every day, preaching three times this weekend, so I don’t have COVID. Let’s just put it that way.”
Graham called for prayers for Trump.
“This is a serious illness,” Graham said during this past Sunday’s service. “Not only our president but of course, 200,000 people in America have died of COVID-19. Families are grieving. It is a dangerous and serious illness."
Paula White-Cain, President Trump’s spiritual adviser who also leads the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative, was also at the White House event. She tested negative for the virus multiple times since Sept 26.
On Sunday, a virtual “call to prayer” was held for President Trump and the first lady by his campaign.
The event saw appearances from White-Cain and other Christian leaders such as Cissie Graham Lynch, Pastor Jentezen Franklin, Pastor Ramiro Pena and Bishop Harry Jackson.
“The other day I took my 85-year-old mother a biscuit for breakfast and I noticed that her eyes were a little puffy. And I said ‘mom, did you not rest good last night?’ It was the night that the news came out that the president had been diagnosed with COVID and the first lady,” Franklin said.
“And it really touched my heart because my mom said, ‘Son, I woke up at 3:30 [a.m.] with the president on my mind and on my heart and on my lips. And his precious wife, Melania.’ And she said, ‘I laid in bed and prayed for three hours.”
White-Cain who has served at the Trump family’s pastor for almost 19 years also prayed earnestly for the health of President Trump and his wife.