A recently reopened Texas church has closed its doors again after five leaders tested positive for coronavirus — days after the death of a priest who returned there despite showing symptoms, officials said.
Father Donnell Kirchner, 79, died early last Wednesday from coronavirus-like symptoms that earlier saw him seeking help at both an urgent care and a local hospital in Houston, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston said.
He was diagnosed with pneumonia, a common complication with similar symptoms to the contagion — but was sent home with medication to the Holy Ghost parish in Bellaire, where he shared a residence with seven other members of the order.
It was not clear if he was ever tested, and the “specific cause of death is unknown,” the archdiocese stressed.
Donnell KirchnerRedemptorists-Denver Province
However, five of the seven he lived with later tested positive for COVID-19, the archdiocese confirmed — including two who were active in helping at recent masses.
The church immediately closed its doors again — despite having only reopened at the beginning of the month, as part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s plan to end the state lockdown in phases.
“If you have attended Masses in person at Holy Ghost Church since the reopening on May 2nd, you are strongly encouraged to monitor your health for any symptoms and be tested for COVID-19, as a precautionary measure,” the Archdiocese said.