An Alabama church group based in Fairhope, Alabama with campuses in Fairhope, Daphne, Thomasville, and Mobile is stuck in Bethlehem and the Palestinian controlled areas of Israel due to coronavirus fears. Earlier in the week, the members of the 3Circle Church who were on the trip were notified by the tour company conducting their tour that employees of the hotel where they had been staying had tested positive for the coronavirus. Told they were going to have to evacuate the hotel, they began looking for other accommodations for the trip. While trying to make other accommodations, they were notified that they had to return to the hotel for virus testing and quarantine. They consulted with staff members at the United States embassy in Israel, who instructed them to follow requests from local authorities.
Ever since returning to the hotel, they’ve been quarantined and unable to leave even though no members of the church group are showing any signs of infection. On Friday, the head pastor of the church gave a radio interview with FM Talk 106.5 and Sean Sullivan. Pastor Chris Bell said that they had just been tested and should receive the results in the coming days. He praised the staff members and officials with both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority and described both as having been very helpful and cooperative in accommodating their needs. Hotel staff members are making sure that members of his group are getting their necessary prescription medications and ensuring that members of the group have plenty to eat and drink. Also, they have access through the internet to the outside world.
In that same interview, Pastor Bell said that he is requesting that the group be evacuated back to the United States and quarantined in the States if necessary. The group is anxious to get home and be back on American soil. Pastor Bell expressed his opinion that he feels as though the U.S. embassy in Israel has not been very cooperative or communicative with the group. BamaNewsNow reached out to the State Department for comment about this and received the following response from a state department spokesperson; “We are aware of reports of this case. Due to privacy considerations, we have no further details to share. The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad are among the highest priorities of the Department of State. We stand ready to provide appropriate assistance to U.S. citizens in need and to their families.”
It is unclear at this point when the group may return to the United States or what additional health safety measures they may be subjected to upon return