A 100-person choir performed without masks in front of Mike Pence at a Dallas megachurch, as COVID-19 cases surge through Texas

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  • More than 100 people sang without masks in front of Vice President Mike Pence and a large audience in a megachurch in Dallas on Sunday, according to CNN.

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  • Pence wore a mask in the audience but removed it for his address. He later urged mask wearing, good hygiene, and social distancing, CNN reported.

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  • The CDC has lifted its warning against singing in choirs, but they are still considered a possible “super-spreader” activity.

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  • Texas has seen a massive surge in coronavirus cases, with a recent average of at least 5,000 new reported cases a day, according to the BBC.

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  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A choir of more than 100 people performed for Vice President Mike Pence without face masks on Sunday at a megachurch in Dallas, CNN reported.

Footage of the Celebrate Freedom event at the First Baptist Church, where Pence also gave a speech, showed the choir members spaced about 2 feet apart as they performed several songs at a distance from the audience.

Pence was seen wearing a mask as he disembarked his flight, to meet Texas’ Republican governor, Greg Abbott, as well as in the church audience, CNN reported. He removed it to give a speech, the outlet reported.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention previously warned that group singing performances – like a choir recital – could be a “super-spreader event,” meaning it could transmit the virus among a large number of people.

Singing and projecting your voice could send droplets farther than the recommended 6 feet of social distancing, as Business Insider previously reported.

The CDC removed its guidance against singing in church choirs on May 22 despite the health warnings.

CNN

The First Baptist Church service took place with Texas struggling to contain a renewed outbreak of the coronavirus.

Abbott has said the state is seeing a “swift and very dangerous turn” in the pandemic, with an average of 5,000 new cases reported each day, the BBC reported. Hospitals are hurrying to expand capacities of their intensive-care units to cope with the increase.

The state has reported nearly 150,000 cases to date, and nearly 2,400 deaths, according to The Guardian.

It is one of several states seeing huge surges in the virus since lifting lockdown restrictions.

Pence himself urged mask wearing “wherever it’s indicated” at a later address with Abbott, CNN reported.

“We know from experience, it will slow the spread of the coronavirus,” he was reported saying.

Lynda M. Gonzalez-Pool/Getty Images

Pence said he did not believe the reopenings were causing the growth in new cases, CNN reported. Health experts, however, have attributed the new cases to the easing of lockdown restrictions.

Abbott first announced plans to lift restrictions for Texan businesses on April 11, and by the end of May many businesses and aspects of social life had returned statewide.

Currently, Dallas businesses are allowed to reopen at 50% occupancy, and face coverings are required in all public places where social distancing is not possible. It is unclear if this applies to churches, where there is also no hard occupancy limit.

According to the First Baptist Church website, its visitors undergo temperature screening, and masks and social distancing are strongly encouraged. A representative, Abigail Miller, told Business Insider that capacity in the venue was reduced to 70% but did not address a query about the transmission risks of choral singing.

A church statement said 350,000 people watched the service via broadcast.

Dr. Robert Jeffress, the senior pastor at the church and a Fox News contributor, wrote on Facebook on Sunday: “Thank you Vice President Mike Pence for a powerful, inspiring message at First Baptist Dallas today that all Americans need to hear! Millions of Christians are grateful for you and for our tremendous President Donald J. Trump.”

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