Several members of an Illinois Pentecostal church are either at the hospital or in home quarantine after at least 43 congregants fell ill following a revival service two Sundays ago, and at least 10 of them have tested positive for the new coronavirus.
In a Facebook post Wednesday night, Layna LoCascio, wife of pastor Anthony LoCascio who leads The Life Church of Glenview, said at least 43 of the approximately 80 people who attended a March 15 service at their church have fallen ill and everyone who has been tested for the new coronavirus has come back positive for the virus which has already killed more than 1,470 and infected more than 97,000 people nationwide.
“We have 43 infected (at minimum) from our church or connected to our church from our last service on March 15th. They all haven’t tested but whoever gets a test done ends up being positive, and we all have the same symptoms. It’s just not easy. It’s especially not easy when you’re a leader and a pastor of a precious church and we all got infected together,” she wrote.
Church leaders said the meeting was held days before the governor’s stay-at-home order. However, it was after officials called for large public events to be scaled down to 1,000 people and for private ones to have a maximum 250 in attendance, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Pastor LoCascio told the Daily Herald that he had contemplated canceling the service initially but because the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the area was low he decided against it, particularly because they had a guest speaker coming and had been promoting the event for a while.
"We had a guest speaker. We were promoting it," he said. "We made the announcement, 'If you're sick, stay home.' We didn't know [this would happen]. No one knew."
The decision not to cancel has led to a lot of pain for many, including pastor LoCascio, the guest evangelist, Eli Hernandez, as well as a member of the church who's battling cancer.
“One of the main pillars in our church, who has cancer, is in the hospital with pneumonia and a blood infection and pancreatic cancer and Covid19. He is not doing good. He’s in ICU and on a ventilator. My husband is tore up about it! SO torn up! He’s been so sick as well,” Layna LoCascio wrote.
“It’s been 11 days straight of fever and sickness. He still has fever, and now a cough but he’s able to walk and talk and eat at least. (It had gotten so bad he asked me to check on his life insurance, poor thing.) Without the prayers of precious people all over the nation praying, we might would’ve had a different scenario,” she said, pleading for continued prayers.
Layna LoCascio said that she, her husband, as well as the visiting evangelist had just attended a ministers’ conference in the Chicago metropolitan area, where the coronavirus cases have been exploding, just days before the revival service on March 15 and they might have been infected there.
“If it was just our family, it would be so much easier to deal with but when it’s effected so so many in our church, it’s just so hard. … Little did we all know (leaders from our church and my husband and I and Bro Hernández & his family), little did we know that we were probably infected with Covid19,” she said.
They were looking forward to the special service because it was their last gathering before the lockdown went into effect, she said.
“We had invited so many guests & members. We all knew it was the last service before the lockdown. So many beautiful things happened! People filled with the Holy Spirit and we even had miracles. He even preached about faith! (Bro Hernandez.) But now...now he is at the hospital with pneumonia and under sedation, not doing good. What can I say? Do I give up my faith? Do I look straight into the eyes of what appears to be the most dreaded situation that could ever come of this?” she asked.
“My very own sweet precious mother (and probably father too) ended up getting infected and now Momma is home with a bad cough and in bed. I could sit and FRET and WORRY (and believe me, I’ve done my fair share of that), and I could just let my spirit within me DIE, ORRRR I could just make the choice to say, ‘I KNOW MY GOD!!!!’ And my God says ‘I will be WITH YOU’!!!
She continued: "My God is MORE than enough to supply all of my needs, all of OUR needs! Even if He is as SILENT as can be right now, I KNOW I’ve heard His voice before and I KNOW I will hear His voice AFTER!!! He told US!!! HE TOLD US WERE GOING TO THE OTHER SIDE!!!! I don’t care how hard the storm seems in this “sea of Galilee.” He has PROMISED my church dynamic end time revival! He has PROMISED us that we would be a healing place! I will not BOW! I will NOT BOW to FEAR!”
Layna LoCascio also posted a video on the church’s Facebook page explaining that she has been treating her husband with garlic.
The World Health Organization says that while garlic is a health food and might have "some antimicrobial properties." There has been "no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new coronavirus."