LOS LUNAS, N.M. (KRQE) – The New Mexico Department of Health has reported parishioners of the Calvary Chapel New Harvest Church in Los Lunas have had exposure to COVID-19. Parishioners are asked to contact any location in their area that offers COVID-19 testing to assure they have not tested positive.

“Job one of the Department of Health is to protect the health of the citizens of New Mexico,” said Cabinet Secretary Kathy Kunkel. “Anyone can unknowingly have COVID-19 and spread it to someone at higher risk of complications without realizing how dangerous it can be to that person, whether it’s a total stranger or close family member.”

The state said the staff member at the Calvary Chapel New Harvest Church is being uncooperative and putting others at risk but Pastor David Maestas disagrees. “It’s a sad thing to see it coming out of the media like that, I don’t know where in the world they get this,” said Maestas in a phone interview. “I mean, it really is sad that the church, to me in my opinion, gets the bad end of the deal all the time.”

Maestas said when the staff member thought he was first exposed to the virus, he got tested and put himself in quarantine before the results came out. He said when the positive results came back, that staff member notified the people he was in contact with at the church. Maestas said they’ve told parishioners to get tested, too. In the meantime, the church is still open.

“We’re back open again and we’ll continue with our practices with all our safety practices,” said Maestas. “We have everything separated, aisles are six feet apart, chairs are six feet apart. I mean we’ve done everything we could to make sure we’re complying with the state.”

For privacy reasons, the state can’t provide specifics, saying they’re aware of only the one case at that church. The pastor said other churchgoers who have been in direct contact with the positive member have since been tested and their results came back negative.