CORNING, NY (WSKG) – The Lighthouse Baptist Church in Horseheads said Chemung County violated its First Amendment rights and retained legal counsel after the county issued a closure order on Sept. 8 due to a cluster of COVID-19 cases.
As of Monday, there were 74 confirmed cases linked to the church in Chemung County with more cases also linked in neighboring counties.
A Buffalo lawyer who represents the church claimed it was following county guidelines, but that it can be difficult to keep track of everyone.
“When you have laws that sort of are just impossible for normal human beings to follow, there’s going to be some divergences from what we would all prefer,” said James Ostrowski, attorney for the Lighthouse Baptist Church.
Meanwhile, Chemung County officials have offered a different opinion.
“The majority of churches in Chemung County are doing a great job,” said Chris Moss, Chemung County Executive in a press conference last week. “This is a church who did not follow the guidelines.
“You let your congregation not wear masks, not social distance, sing in a choir not social distance. They were asking for problems and they got it. This isn’t about not wanting people to go to church or infringing on their rights. This is about public health,” Moss added.
Governor Andrew Cuomo tweeted Monday about a rise in cases in the Southern Tier Region. He said that it was due in part to the church cluster.