Just over a month later, he and his wife contracted the virus and he has ended up in the hospital’s intensive care unit struggling to breathe, he said in a statement this week.
“I have not taken this Covid seriously enough,” his wife, Brenda, said on Facebook on September 4, shortly after her husband was admitted to the ICU.
A self-proclaimed “no masks”, Van Noy told worshipers gathered at the Candlelight Christian Fellowship on July 22 that his first tendency was to resist following a local mask ordinance. After some deliberation, he said that the congregation was bound by the Bible to follow all ordinances requiring masks to be passed by their local leaders ̵
On July 23, the Panhandle Health District’s Health Board, which includes the county where Coeur d’Alene is located, approved an order requiring adults to wear face masks in public places where it is not easy to maintain a distance of six meters. Idaho has reported nearly 36,500 cases and 434 deaths since the pandemic began.
But the next day, Van Noy assured his congregation that they did not have to wear masks in his church, in part because the order allowed certain medical exceptions and did not require people to prove these conditions.
“At Candlelight, we exercise our freedom and right to allow you as a member to enter the facilities without obligation to follow the Panhandle Health District’s order,” he wrote on Facebook on July 24.
Dear candle family, due to the recent decision of the Panhandle Health District, I have been asked how …
Posted by Paul Van Noy on Friday, July 24, 2020
In his sermons and Facebook posts, Van Noy claimed that although the coronavirus pandemic was not a scam, hospital stays and case numbers of unnamed people with “agendas” were inflated. He shared a post urging his followers to “open your businesses, churches and homes.” He spreads false statements that indicate that masks are not effective in preventing the spread of coronavirus and claims that asymptomatic infections are rare.
“If a person wants a mask, they should be allowed to do so,” he said in another post. “But if they do not, it’s ok too.”
Weeks later, Van Noy became ill. He and his wife tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to a statement released by the church this week. Van Noy’s health deteriorated with what his wife called an “unfortunate storm in Paul’s lungs.” Van Noys has not said publicly where they were exposed to the virus.
“Pray for a miracle,” she wrote.
On September 3, the pastor was in the intensive care unit and was given oxygen while he struggled to breathe.
“I am humble,” she wrote on September 4. “I have Covid and some of my friends have Covid now, but more seriously, my husband is in critical care at CUID and it’s serious. Take this seriously.”
On Monday, he expressed optimism that his condition improved.
“After being at the ICU for 11 days now … and counting, I’m really starting to turn the corner – for the better,” Paul Van Noy said on Monday. “They tell me it’s going to be a few more days at the ICU and then I’m moving back to a regular room for a couple of days and then recovering at home.”
His wife did not need to be hospitalized, Van Noy said. At least four other church staff also tested positive for the virus, the KHQ reported.
Van Noy is far from the only religious leader who opposes local worm mandates and coronavirus closures that temporarily shut down houses of worship in some hard-hit areas of the United States.
Another pastor made headlines after he violated local restrictions on holding worship services in Ventura County, California. Godspeak Calvary Chapel in Newbury Park was fined $ 3,000 by government officials for holding six indoor services in August. A judge found Pastor Rob McCoy in contempt of state order banning religious services indoors due to the pandemic.
Van Noy and the Candlelight Christian Fellowship have invited McCoy and one of his followers, US founder Charlie Kirk, to speak at the Idaho Church on September 27.
“Charlie and Rob are working to understand what the true role of the Church in America can and should be in the face of growing opposition and cultural hostility,” said Candlelight Christian Fellowship on its event page.