A Jacksonville church reports that six of its members—four of them under the age of 35—died in the last two weeks after contracting COVID-19, and the Florida church is now encouraging vaccinations for its members.
“One mother, who just was recently married, to celebrate her one-year wedding anniversary with a young daughter and to now see her gone, when you really just know that was avoidable,” Rev. George Davis said, according to a WFLA-TV report on Impact Church in one of Florida’s largest metro areas.
“It’s definitely taken a toll on us,” Davis remarked. “Some of them have been extremely close to us. And to watch some of these people in the prime of their life.”
Davis noted that while the people they lost were healthy, they were also unvaccinated.
“We’ve had now six members of our church over the course of a couple [of] weeks now that have passed away from COVID,” Davis said during a Sunday service streamed on the church’s Facebook page Aug. 8, according to CNN. “It has just absolutely ripped our hearts apart. The most recent one was actually a young lady on our worship team.”
While Davis maintains that the Florida church members didn’t contract COVID-19 while congregating at Impact, he also noted that another 15-20 members are currently hospitalized while battling the virus. Approximately 10 more members have tested positive, and they were convalescing at home.
Impact made vaccinations available at the church in March 2021, inoculating 800 members.
“Part of my resolve is, yes we are praying, but we aren’t just going to be praying,” Davis declared. “We are going [to] pray and do something. And part of our do something in this situation is that we are having a vaccination event.”
While the new vaccination effort was prompted by the recent cases affecting Davis’ congregation, he fell short of insisting members get vaccinated.
“My family and I are all fully vaccinated,” said Davis. “I’m not asking you to be vaccinated because I don’t want to pressure you. We are simply making it available for those who want it.”
Florida is currently in its most aggressive wave of COVID-19 cases. On Aug. 5, the state reached a case number high-water mark of 134,506.
According to data from the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Research Center, barely more than half of Florida residents—50.96%—are fully vaccinated.