COVID-19 Preparation and Response
In light of the growing concerns over COVID-19, sometimes referred to as coronavirus, I want to share some resources and best practices for both your congregation and your everyday life. The information below comes from the Episcopal Relief & Development, The World Health Organization, and the Center for Disease Control.
Our role in responding as churches, dioceses, and compassionate Christians, is to:
Combat fear with knowledge in order to encourage preparedness and decrease stigma.
In fact, 20% of all common “colds” are Corona viruses. Symptoms for COVID-19 are respiratory in nature and can include coughing, sneezing, and chest congestion. At this time, older adults and people with compromised immune systems or chronic diseases are most at risk. There is no known significant pediatric risk. COVID-19 is more contagious than the flu, and less so than the measles. The virus is transmitted through cough or sneeze droplets.
The best practices for preventing the spread of most viruses are to wash your hands regularly, cover your sneezes and coughs, and to get your annual flu shot. “Well” people do not need to wear face masks.
Maintain operational continuity and continue worship life in the case of potential quarantine and disruption.
We strongly recommend that you:
- Develop or enhance ways to minister to those who are sick, but still want to participate. These can include live streaming services and developing e-giving methods.
- Determine who are at risk parishioners and reach out to them in advance. Those most at risk are our elderly, health care workers or first responders, those with chronic health conditions, and marginalized workers without sick day compensation or medical insurance.
The best practices for reducing the spread of viruses are:
- Basic hygiene – wash hands with soap for at least 20 seconds.
- Prohibit intinction in all forms. (It is also perfectly fine for people in your congregation to not receive communion in both forms.)
- Ensure that all Eucharistic ministers wash their hands before communion, using hand sanitizer and not touching your faces in the course of the consecration or distribution of communion.
- Maintain a vigilant sanitization practice, including draining and sanitizing all baptismal fonts and stoups.
- Refrain from all touching during the Peace. Invite your congregation to be as creative as possible in greeting one another without touching one another
- Wipe down your communion rails and your pews after service.
- General cleaning and sanitation: regularly clean altar rails, pews, bathroom handles, elevator door buttons, and door plates and handles
- Train the altar party to thoroughly wipe inside and outside of chalice
- Require that everyone in the altar party use hand sanitizer before the Liturgy of the Table
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Remove all “soft” toys from children’s areas such as dolls, stuffed animals, blankets, etc.
- Stay home if you are ill
Show God’s compassion and care to those in our communities who are affected.
- Provide for the financial needs of those without paid sick days
- Take special concern for vulnerable community members in our midst. Those most at risk are our elderly, health care workers or first responders, those with chronic health conditions, and marginalized workers without sick day compensation or medical insurance.
When You Cannot Attend Worship:
In union, O Lord, with your faithful people at every altar of your Church, where the Holy Eucharist is now being celebrated. I desire to offer you praise and thanksgiving. I remember your death, Lord Christ; I proclaim your resurrection; I await your coming in glory. And since I cannot receive you today in the Sacrament of your Body and Blood, I beseech you to come spiritually into my heart. Cleanse and strengthen me with your grace, Lord Jesus, and let me never be separated from you. May I live in you, and you in me, in this life and the life to come. Amen.
From The Prayer Book of the Armed Forces (1988)
We will continue to monitor the situation as it develops, and we will communicate with you further as necessary.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop Bonnie Perry