Coronavirus pushes Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church to cancel services

Congregants can stream the service online

Pastor Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church in Houston is canceling its Sunday gatherings this weekend, saying it will broadcast its service online only.

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The church, considered one of the largest in the U.S. with a seating capacity of nearly 17,000, announced the decision Thursday after the city of Houston declared a public health emergency.

There are at least 21 coronavirus cases in Texas.

A TMZ report Wednesday said the church was at the time planning to go ahead with three upcoming services: one Saturday night and two on Sunday. Church staff members were taking precautions, including sanitizing surfaces and leaving doors open so guests wouldn't need to grab them, according to the report.

Other events in the city, including the Houston Rodeo, have been scrapped due to the pandemic.

(Timothy Fadek/Corbis via Getty Images)

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A number of domestic businesses have advised employees to avoid non-essential travel and a handful of outdoor festivals like Coachella have been pushed back or canceled due to the highly contagious nature of the virus, which can spread through close contact.

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