COVID-19 Update: March 10, 2020
From Bishop Wayne Smith and Bishop-elect Deon Johnson
As we live more fully into the reality of COVID-19, please be assured that your diocesan leaders are closely monitoring the latest news and health advisories. The first case of the disease was confirmed in our area March 7. We want to stress again the need to remain calm and combat fear with knowledge.
Unless advised by health authorities to do otherwise, we will continue in regular worship and diocesan meetings and gatherings. We recommend that parishes do the same. If you are in a high-risk group (over 60-years old or have a chronic health condition), we will provide ways to participate remotely whenever possible.
In this message, you will find:
- Preventative steps
- Congregational practices
- Responding to illness
- Resources for more information and communications
Health officials agree that common sense preventative practices are the most effective forms of disease control, including:
- Frequent, effective hand washing
- Staying home when sick
- Covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, using a tissue or your sleeve instead of your hands
As we are in close contact during our worship and in community, it is especially important that we practice and promote personal hygiene. We recommend the following congregational practices today – please note that we will continually be monitoring conditions and these recommendations will be updated as we move forward:
- Clergy, lay leaders, and all members stay home when ill.
- Regularly clean and sanitize all communionware, wipe down the communion rail, the altar and door handles with disinfecting wipes or cleaners.
- Each parish can decide whether or not to offer the common cup. If you do,
-use a silver or metal chalice, not glass or ceramic
-do NOT intinct -- more germs get into the cup by dipping than sipping
-wipe the cup inside and out with the purificator and turn a quarter-turn with each person.
- Refrain from hand-shaking and hugging during the Peace and throughout services. Smiles, waves and bows are a safer practice right now.
- Eucharistic ministers should wash their hands or use an alcohol-based rub before the distribution of the sacrament, whether in the context of the liturgy or in visiting someone at home or in the hospital.
- Drain your baptismal font.
- Parishes involved in ministries serving food give particular attention to best practices regarding food safety.
- Regularly do environmental cleaning in the sanctuary, kitchen hall and other spaces where people gather.
- Pay special attention to the care of vulnerable populations, the elderly, children, the infirm and others at special risks.
Responding to illness:
If clergy, a member of your staff or a member is diagnosed with COVID-19:
- Stay home and follow the instructions of health officials.
- Notify the Bishop’s office at 314-231-1220.
- Notify your congregation.
- Cancel all church activities.
- Make arrangements to have your church and offices professionally cleaned
(call the Bishop’s office if you need financial assistance).
In the event of a local outbreak of the virus, now is a good time to prepare for home-based worship resources, including livestream services, telephone ministry, and pastoral care to the wider community.
Thank you for your on-going prayers for all those around the globe who are ill or have died from this disease, and for those whose lives have been severely disrupted.
Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep during this time, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend to the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.
(BCP, p. 124)
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has issued a statement concerning the coronavirus, encouraging us to act as a community and a family in dealing with this outbreak.
Watch and/or read the Presiding Bishop's statement and get more guidelines and resources from the Episcopal Church.
Finally, here are some resources from the CDC to post on bulletin boards or include in your worship bulletins:
- CDC: What you should know, situation updates & information:
- Fact sheets:
- Social media and posters for hand washing:
We will continue to monitor the situation and will send additional communications as they are needed. Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns.