Westmoreland church hit by COVID deaths
Members of the Glad Tidings Assembly of God in Broughton, Little London, Westmoreland, have had their faith tested by the novel coronavirus, which has claimed the lives of at least three members and infected several others.
The church's pastor, the Reverend Howard Palmer, said the loss of the members underscores how dangerous COVID-19 can be. Since the start of the pandemic, Jamaica has lost 1,809 persons, with 166 of those deaths occurring in Westmorland.
Palmer said that worship services are held in conformity with guidelines outlined by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, which includes physical distancing and mask wearing. He also said that COVID-19 briefings were conducted by a registered nurse, who is a member of the congregation, and that he has been encouraging persons to get vaccinated.
"I even started to get more defensive against unvaccinated persons because the persons who died from the virus were very dear to me. One female was the church treasurer, and she even preaches on some occasions. Her husband was confirmed to be a devoted organiser inside the church and a community coordinator," Palmer said.
Merline Grant Morris, a member of the church, told THE WEEKEND STAR that after witnessing three of her closest friends and fellow church members dying from COVID-19, she is encouraging Jamaicans to get vaccinated.
"I am fully vaccinated and I am encouraging all Jamaicans to get vaccinated, because it's not easy for you to lose a loved one with whom you have been very close, and has been part of your church family for so many years," Grant-Morris said.
"My church members are not the only persons I have lost to COVID-19, because I have also lost four relatives in the parish to COVID, " she added.
Andrew Allen, a resident of Little London, said that he is lucky to have survived the dreaded COVID-19. He said he spent most of August in hospital after he contracted the respiratory virus. He, too, has ties with Glad Tidings Assembly of God.
"Mi is not a Christian but mi visit Pastor Palmer church from time to time, and mi is one of the persons who catch COVID-19 inna the last batch a people," he said.
"Mi naah tell you that mi ketch it from the other church member dem, but mi know seh more than a dozen people ketch it uppa church, but most a dem fraid, and shame fi even talk bout it," Allen said.