THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Dozens of people, most of them not wearing masks, showed up for a second caroling event hosted by actor Kirk Cameron in Thousand Oaks, as all of Southern California deals with a dangerous and massive surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths.
The crowd, appearing to be about 75 to 100 people, was caroling outside The Oaks mall - right next to a COVID-19 testing center.
There were people of all ages, from children to senior citizens, in the group. Few, if any, could be seen wearing masks or distancing from each other in aerial footage from AIR7 HD.
They were apparently ignoring the repeated warnings issued by health officials throughout the region urging people not to gather in groups and to wear masks in public at all times as COVID-19 patients fill local hospitals to their maximum capacity.
Officials have warned that such events can serve as "super spreaders" causing infections among large numbers of people in a short amount of time, with those people then infecting other family members and friends before they are even aware they have the virus.
Officials with The Oaks mall said the "irresponsible" event was not authorized by the mall and they have requested it be moved.
"The event occurring at The Oaks at this moment is a non-sanctioned event," mall officials said.
"We continue to share our community's concerns over these irresponsible - yet constitutionally protected - events and have law enforcement on property. We reached out to the organizer to ask that the event be moved."
This is the second event hosted by the former "Growing Pains" actor-turned-evangelist. His first event was subject to criticism for contributing to the spread of coronavirus.
After that first event was held, Thousand Oaks Mayor Claudia Bill-de la Pena commented: "Liberty and freedom are very fragile and they come with great responsibility. Continuing to hold large gatherings and ignoring all guidelines, I feel, is un-Christian."
In an invitation to Tuesday's event, Cameron referred to it as a "peaceful protest."
"Let your voice be heard at this peaceful protest praising the Prince of Peace," Cameron wrote on social media.
Ventura County has recorded more than 200 deaths since the start of the pandemic and more than 31,000 total cases. The county reported 2,049 new cases on Monday alone.
There are more than 300 patients now hospitalized for COVID-19 in Ventura County, with 68 in the ICU.
Ventura County health officials, like their counterparts across the state, have been urging the public to not gather with groups outside their own household and to wear masks at all times when outside the home.
"Our heroes wear masks! Shout out to the first responders in the ICU working 24/7 to serve our community," county officials said in a COVID-19 update sent out this week.
"Thank you, Ventura County, for helping them out by masking up, social distancing and not gathering during this critical time. Let's save lives and save businesses by bringing down the numbers."
Additionally, a COVID-19 outbreak in the Ventura County jails has led the sheriff to order the release of 76 low-level offenders who have less than 60 days remaining on their sentences in an effort to reduce the jail population and make more space available for distancing.