Is it safe to go to church or other religious services during a pandemic? Your guide

For worshipers during the Covid-19 pandemic, a deadly lesson from the 1918 flu

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Just like a financial budget helps you determine what your spending limits are, a ‘coronavirus budget’ can help you determine where your limits lie in terms of potentially risky activities – including church services, she said. declared.

“When you’re vaccinated, your budget goes up now,” said Wen, emergency physician and visiting professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

“You can do a lot more, but you still can’t do it all. Therefore, you should always choose the things that are most meaningful to you, that are of the greatest value. For example, if it’s really important to you to go back to church services in person, don’t dine inside at restaurants every night. “

Some churches, synagogues, mosques and other places of worship offer virtual or external services. If you attend in-person services indoors, because unvaccinated people are always at higher risk, vaccinated and unvaccinated people should always “follow recommended public health measures (by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States), ”said Dr. Ada Stewart, family physician at Cooperative Health in Columbia, South Carolina, and president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

This includes following the advice of your public health department or local government. Wear a mask, stay at least six feet away from people who do not live in your home, and avoid poorly ventilated areas. Well ventilated spaces have the ability to open windows and doors and use window fans. They also have properly functioning ventilation systems and HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filtration systems that improve air cleaning.

Try sitting near a window or open door, or choose a service where people tend to sing less, Wen said. Singing may require making your voice louder and more powerful, which would increase the risk of the coronavirus spreading through the air. Before and after service, wash your hands with soap and lukewarm water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer.

Ask your place of worship if it regularly cleans frequently touched surfaces such as benches, pens, or offering plates with soap or detergent. You can bring disinfectant wipes to use if needed. The risk of getting infected with coronavirus from touching contaminated surfaces is generally low, the CDC said, but the chances depend on several factors, including the rate of infection in your community. The likelihood of surface transmission can be further reduced by properly wearing masks and washing hands.

The CDC has recommended a few steps to reduce the potential risk of sharing material: avoiding or limiting the use of shared objects such as pens, hymns, religious texts, newsletters, or other worship aids. Ask if your church can instead photocopy or electronically display or project prayers, songs and texts.

Places of worship can also use stationary collection boxes for offerings instead of placing a basket, or accepting contributions online. If food is offered during or after services, choose prepackaged foods rather than buffets or potlucks, if possible.

If you have children, the CDC has also provided resources to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in child care centers. Whether children should attend Sunday school depends on the setting, Wen said.

“There should be forced masking at all times, ideally (6 feet) away,” she said.

“On the outside it’s much better than on the inside,” added Wen. “If it’s indoors, at least put it in a well-ventilated space. We should consider Sunday school to be the same as regular school i.e. transmission can be quite low if the proper mitigation measures are followed.

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