FILE - West Virginia state flag

The West Virginia state flag flies.

(The Center Square) – Active church outbreaks of COVID-19 in West Virginia expanded from four counties Friday to seven counties Monday, and they account for 75 confirmed cases, Gov. Jim Justice said.

Church is the ideal setting to spread the coronavirus, and worshipers should social distance from people who are not in their immediate family, said Justice, who also reminded residents the law requires them to wear a face mask during indoor worship services. Many elderly people attend church services and ignoring the guidelines could result in their deaths, he said.

“I know these things are really difficult to do,” Justice said in a statement. “But, for right now, they have to be done because, if we don’t, all we’re going to do is lose more people. We could very well lose a lot of our grandmothers and grandfathers – people who have so much wisdom to still continue to pass on – we absolutely don’t need to be losing these great West Virginians.”

The three new counties reporting church outbreaks are Grant, Logan and Wood. The other four counties with church outbreaks are Boone, Kanawha, Raleigh and Taylor.

West Virginia recorded 205 additional COVID-19 cases over the weekend. The county with the most active cases is Monongalia County, which has 394. The governor temporarily shut down the bars in Monongalia County last week to try and halt the spread of the virus.

The state has seen an upward trend in cases since the start of July.

Justice also said he will have a phone call with university and college presidents Tuesday to discuss plans to reopen campuses.

Staff Reporter

Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and West Virginia for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.