A choir of more than 100 people performed without masks at a robustly attended event in Texas at the First Baptist Church on Sunday that featured a speech by Vice President Mike Pence.
Nearly 2,200 people attended the “Celebrate Freedom Rally,” in the Lone Star State, according to rally organizers, which has seen a severe surge in coronavirus cases since easing restrictions. The venue capacity for the indoor event was close to 3,000 attendees, organizers say.
Throughout the service, the members of the choir sang at full volume, behind an orchestra. Between songs, the choir members put their masks back on when they sat down, according to pool reports from the event. The members of the choir had space between them, but it was not clear if it was the recommended six feet.
Choir rehearsals and performances became a focal point early in the course of the coronavirus pandemic, with an outbreak within a 122-member choir in Washington state becoming the subject of a in-depth report out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the report, 87% of singers that attended rehearsal contracted the deadly virus
When Pence arrived at the event, he was wearing a mask. Sen. John Cornyn,a Texas Republican, and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, who traveled with the vice president, also wore masks. Pence said in an interview that aired Sunday that people should listen to state and local officials on wearing masks in public, adding that “every state has a unique situation.” Pence took off his mask when he began speaking.
Texas has become a coronavirus hotspot in recent weeks, forcing Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to issue an executive order limiting certain businesses and services in order to prevent further community spread — a reversal from Texas’ early reopening plan.