Your guide to avoiding Covid-19 at church and other religious services

If you're wondering how to get back to in-person religious services, CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen recommends thinking about it like your finances....

Posted: Apr 10, 2021 9:19 AM

If you're wondering how to get back to in-person religious services, CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen recommends thinking about it like your finances.

Just like a financial budget helps you figure out what your spending limits are, a "coronavirus budget" can help you figure out where your boundaries are in terms of potentially risky activities -- including religious services, she said.

"When you're vaccinated, your budget now expands," said Wen, an 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 everything. So, you should still choose the things that are the most meaningful to you, that are of the highest value. For example, if it's really important for you to return to in-person church services, don't also dine indoors in restaurants every night."

Some churches, synagogues, mosques and other houses of worship have been offering virtual or outdoor services. If you do attend in-person services inside, because unvaccinated people are still at higher risk, both vaccinated and unvaccinated people still need "to follow the public health measures recommended (by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)," said Dr. Ada Stewart, a family physician with Cooperative Health in Columbia, South Carolina, and the president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

That includes following the guidance of your local public health department or government. Wear a mask, stay at least 6 feet away from people who don't live in your household, and avoid poorly ventilated spaces. Well-ventilated spaces have the ability to open windows and doors and use window fans. They also have properly operating ventilation systems and HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filtration systems that enhance air cleaning.

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

Ask your house of worship if it's regularly cleaning, with soap or detergent, frequently touched surfaces like pews, pens or offering plates. You could bring sanitizing wipes to use if needed. The risk of getting infected with coronavirus by touching contaminated surfaces is generally low, the CDC has said, but chances depend on several factors, including the infection rate in your community. The likelihood of surface transmission can be further reduced by properly wearing masks and handwashing.

The CDC has recommended a few steps to reduce the potential risk involved with sharing materials: Avoid or limit use of shared objects such as pens, hymnals, religious texts, bulletins or other worship aids. Ask whether your church can instead photocopy or electronically display or project prayers, songs and texts.

Houses of worship can also use stationary collection boxes for offerings instead of passing a basket, or accept contributions online. If food is offered at or after services, choose pre-packaged foods instead of buffet or potluck meals, if possible.

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

"There should be enforced masking at all times, ideally (6-feet) distancing," she said.

"Outside is much better than inside," Wen added. "If it's inside, at least have it be in a well-ventilated space. We should consider Sunday school to be the same as regular school, which is that transmission can be quite low if the proper mitigation measures are followed."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 313161

Reported Deaths: 3594
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah51245642
Washington34995276
Marion32577393
Clackamas26570271
Lane23989246
Jackson20977257
Deschutes16623102
Umatilla12602125
Douglas10712188
Linn1046886
Josephine8659165
Yamhill744999
Klamath643491
Polk623570
Malheur479467
Benton461927
Coos412069
Columbia324237
Jefferson313746
Lincoln276330
Union272737
Wasco239039
Crook212338
Clatsop211725
Tillamook181523
Baker174421
Morrow167921
Curry166817
Hood River163035
Harney78916
Grant7558
Lake6768
Wallowa50811
Gilliam1374
Sherman1283
Wheeler651
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4644566

Reported Deaths: 68019
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles144512125852
Riverside3579884804
San Diego3495814009
San Bernardino3472035506
Orange3146225354
Sacramento1503072089
Santa Clara1405641841
Fresno1358611888
Kern1358421515
Alameda1162141329
Ventura976901120
San Joaquin973871615
Contra Costa95727924
Stanislaus806991234
Tulare72969896
San Mateo52239607
San Francisco51907605
Monterey49465565
Solano44151312
Santa Barbara43112500
Sonoma39441378
Merced39370535
Placer36487364
Imperial34261755
Kings30124284
San Luis Obispo28300313
Madera21707258
Butte21307230
Shasta20683276
Santa Cruz20151211
Yolo19143239
Marin17106242
El Dorado16004127
Sutter13094153
Napa1226895
Yuba926061
Nevada847685
Humboldt829587
Tehama823784
San Benito709067
Mendocino685575
Lassen637627
Tuolumne615393
Lake603687
Amador492259
Glenn398030
Siskiyou389541
Calaveras342266
Del Norte336034
Colusa290918
Inyo166539
Mono14935
Plumas12406
Mariposa99712
Trinity72010
Modoc6278
Sierra1980
Unassigned1650
Alpine1000
Out of CA00
Medford
Clear
56° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 56°
Brookings
Partly Cloudy
70° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 70°
Crater Lake
Clear
56° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 56°
Grants Pass
Partly Cloudy
56° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 56°
Klamath Falls
Clear
53° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 53°
Warmer temperatures with haze returning
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events