A California pastor has died from COVID-19, five weeks after his megachurch reopened in defiance of the state’s ban on indoor religious services.
Bob Bryant, a 58-year-old associate pastor at the Water of Life Community Church in San Bernardino County, died on Monday, Pastor Dan Carroll said in a Facebook post.
“It is with heavy hearts that we share Pastor Bob Bryant passed earlier today from this life and found himself fully in the presence of Jesus. So many of you have prayed and contended for his well-being and miraculous healing over the last week and half,” Carroll wrote.
“Bob got every symptom. He just started to get more and more symptoms,” she said, according to the station. “Within three hours they were running me back to the back and they were putting Bob on a ventilator.”
Bryant contracted the virus in November and eventually suffered severe pneumonia in his lungs, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The megachurch opened for indoor services last month, according to a Facebook post: “This weekend, Oct. 31st/Nov. 1st, we are moving our church services back to inside the Worship Center AND returning back to our traditional service times. Social distancing will be followed and face masks are required. We will still have seating available outside, as long as the weather permits, for those that are not comfortable with sitting inside.”
According to the News&Observer: “San Bernardino County, where the church is located, allows churches to open only for outdoor services. The county is designated in the “purple” tier, meaning many non-essential indoor businesses are closed and there are more than seven daily new cases per 100,000 people.”
San Bernardino is one of the hardest-hit regions in a state struggling to contain a vicious winter wave of the virus.
Church officials insisted to the Times that Byrant didn’t come to church after he developed symptoms but they weren’t sure when the pastor was last in the church.
NBC Los Angeles reports that Bryant held outdoor services. It is not clear if he participated or attended any indoor services.