I wrote up a brief statement to send to our home church, let me know what you think:
Since the main way of virus transmission is through respiratory droplets which then get into someone else’s nose, mouth, eyes(?) there are only two main ways people could even get infected. The first is by touching common surfaces and then touching your eyes, mouth, nose and the second is through sufficient exposure in close contact. I was sent me a great blog post outlining potential scenarios of transmission (https://www.erinbromage.com/post/the-risks-know-them-avoid-them?fbclid=IwAR1JhGst-4_Gr2pgID1u9XSjNqZee34OkiSDmW7g-c8UkBRtzreIPR5Ujvs).
These are mostly obvious like:
- Self serve Coffee, water, tea
- Water fountain
- Collection Basket
- iPads for giving (unless you have a dedicated person that wipes them down after each use)
- Bathroom door handles/stall handles/urinal flushers
- Many people wash their hands and then turn the faucet off with their hands afterwards which defeats the purpose (maybe including a sign or infographic about proper hand washing or have someone dedicated to wiping down any common surfaces)
- Entrance and exit doors
- Wiping down seats that families sit in – their hands are all over the seats & let’s say someone coughs or sneezes, then their droplets are all over the seats and someone else sits there in a second service
Stopping people congregating
- There are some hot spots where people tend to congregate unintentionally (different from intentional congregation) which includes the two small doors from the main lobby area that leads to side wings where the bathrooms and exits are
- Maybe we can have arrows on the ground directing the flow of people? This could be the case for the sanctuary too
- Probably have one exit and entrance to the building
- Probably no worship up front or after service prayer unless…
- We mark off spots for worship and it’s first come first serve
- We make a prayer line along the edge of the sanctuary marking out spacing of 6 feet and have a few prayer teams (if there needs to be two people then do people who live in the same household only)
- Close the sanctuary promptly after service (in the name of “cleaning” for the next service)
- And then encourage people to exit the building – it’s better if they congregate outside anyways if they really need to just say hello
- Kids could be a nightmare in terms of regular contact, it might be a while before we have children’s ministry
- The general rule of thumb is obviously six feet from other people but there are ways to send respiratory droplets further than this
- For example here’s some evidence of sneezes traveling up to (27 ft- https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2763852)
- Loud worship where your mouth is angled at about 30 to 45 degrees allows your droplets to travel further – think about throwing a projectile (the ideal angles are somewhere around the angles that we worship at)
- The longer this worship is sustained the more droplets you are sending down towards the front or they are sending towards you
- This may require staggering seating and going 3-4 rows instead of just going for 6 feet
Potentially Closing again
It’s unclear what will happen in the future as approximately only about 2-4% of the population seems to have been infected so far (outside of hotspots like NYC - https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/from-our-experts/early-herd-immunity-against-covid-19-a-dangerous-misconception). This means 95%+ of the population is susceptible and many epidemiologists expect cases to start rising again (likely in June). Things will likely look very good, especially as there’s some evidence that Virginia is padding their numbers putting antibody tests into viral tests to make our numbers look better (https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/05/covid-19-tests-combine-virginia/611620/?fbclid=IwAR0ZuD-n4fAU_zWDideI_07kcZx4CYroGOgtND7Ccz0fF69u9p_A3JJaxPQ). It is unlikely that we will just continue forward with cases decreasing and while we can plan for just going forward into stage 2 and stage 3, we should have contingency plans for potentially closing again. We could easily see people coming to VA Beach for tourism and causing a massive outbreak on the oceanfront.
What about faith filled, but at-risk congregants?
What I mean is many congregants will be full of faith that Jesus will protect them, but if someone falls in the at-risk category, I personally would at least still advise precautions to them. This could also apply if you live with someone in these categories, it could be best to deny ourselves for the sake of loving our neighbors. The most recent at-risk list is (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/groups-at-higher-risk.html):
- Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
- Chronic kidney disease being treated with dialysis
- Chronic lung disease
- Hemoglobin disorders
- Liver disease
- People aged 65 years and older
- People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
- Serious heart conditions
- Severe obesity
I think many people would just come anyways believing they will be okay or that Jesus will protect them so that’s up to you how you want to proceed.
There probably should be some statement about anyone being symptomatic though many people seem to spread the disease without knowing. Also, people are notoriously bad at remembering or paying attention to symptoms. A general list of symptoms is (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html):
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
Here’s the one now infamous choir practice where one person forgot they were symptomatic and they left dozens infected with three Christians hospitalized and two dead from a single meeting: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6919e6.htm
What about face masks?
They are uncomfortable, but appear to offer some protection (not really for you, especially if you keep adjusting them with your hands) but for other people as it catches many of your respiratory droplets. Sneezes still should go into elbows though as most people only have loose fitting cloth masks and the droplets can shoot out the sides.
The In Jesus Name Argument
I’m all for declaring certain things in Jesus’ name, but it’s unclear how this thing will end. It seems to be following natural laws right now. Some things on a timeline:
- Early March Shawn Bolz prophesies a sudden end to this virus
- March 5th Cindy Jacobs declared the coronavirus illegal in Jesus’ name and that it should cease worldwide
- March 13th Kenneth Copeland shares the Lord spoke to him that this will be over much sooner than you think
- March 19th Lou Engle goes on the offensive against the coronavirus to heal the land/plague in a worldwide fast/prayer
- Before Easter – Chuck Pierce, Kenneth Copeland (again), Jeremiah Johnson cite Passover as a significant turning point in COVID-19 (it will be over) and Pat Robertson declares no new cases after Easter. There was lots of chatter in prophetic circles because there were plagues in Africa and other things that sounded like the plagues of Egypt and thus Passover was supposed to be the time of deliverance
- Now our housemate told us that people are predicting the end of COVID-19 by Pentecost
So what can we expect the Lord to do in all of this? Take it day by day like James 4:13-17 perhaps? I trust that he will guide you in all of this and look forward to the future of our church in these times!
What are your thoughts?