BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Two days after she appeared at a worship service she helped organize on the steps of the State Capitol, State Sen. Shannon Grove of Bakersfield — the chamber’s minority leader — has yet to publicly comment on the event, which sponsors claim was attended by 12,000 people — few of whom, judging by video from the event, were wearing masks or observing social distancing guidelines intended to blunt the spread of Covid-19.
Grove helped rev up the crowd at Sunday’s packed outdoor service at the State Capitol Sunday — a worship service and political rally of sorts, rolled into one.
Thousands attended the service, almost none of whom appeared to be taking steps to protect themselves and others from possible exposure to the coronavirus — steps such as wearing face coverings.
The event wasn’t merely about a worship service, although worship was certainly part of the rally.
Organizer Sam Feucht — a Republican candidate for Congress who lost in the 3rd Congressional District’s March primary — called the event a “let us worship“ rally — an appeal to Gov. Gavin Newsom to allow churches to reopen for traditional, live, in-person services.
Indoor church services, like live concerts and other mass-attendance events, are currently barred as California attempts to knock back the virus, which has killed more than 13,000 people statewide and nearly 300 in Kern County since March.
Attendees at the Sunday rally included a sold-out busload from Canyon Hills Assembly of God church in northeast Bakersfield. Canyon Hills’ participation seems to have been news to the Kern County Department of Public Health, which has been urging people to wear masks and avoid large crowds. Public Health spokeswoman Michelle Corson said the department had not been aware that Kern County residents had attended the service — the type of service some might term a potential super spreader event.
In fact, Grove and the rest of the state senate’s Republican caucus were directed to stay away from the capitol last week after a member tested positive for Covid-19 and all members were required to quarantine until this coming Thursday. Nevertheless, Grove was issued a permit to organize an event for up to 1,000.
KGET reached out for comment to both Grove and Canyon Hills Pastor Wendell Vinson but did not hear back. The County Department of Public Health told KGET that it continues to ask residents to follow the governor’s order and not gather, especially with those that live outside your household.