Georgia church closes two weeks after reopening as families come down with coronavirus

"A Georgia church that reopened after shutting down due to the coronavirus has axed in-person services again in what they describe as 'an effort of extreme caution' as several of their families have become infected by the deadly disease." - CPost

Also, a California church: 180 Churchgoers Exposed to COVID-19 by Asymptomatic Member

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dmyers's picture

Out of the 180, worst case scenario, 15% (27) or fewer will be infected, of whom 50% (13-14) or more will have no symptoms; of the remaining 13-14 who might actually get sick, 15% (2) or fewer will require hospitalization and 0-1 might die.

More likely, given the attendees' social distancing, few if any were infected, even fewer if any will show any symptoms, and no one will be seriously ill, let alone die, especially if no one in the vulnerable categories attended (which they shouldn't).  That is in no objective sense a "hot spot."

JD Miller's picture

Yesterday I talked to a man in a different area who is ready to go back to church.  They have only detected 10 cases in their county.  He had heard the concern about our testimony as Christians and what people would say if someone caught it at church.  His comment was that in order for anyone to catch it at church someone would have had to catch it somewhere else before they went to church.  In other words it is not like church is the only place where people can catch it.  He was glad to hear we were already meeting.  

We were actually one of the first to cancel back in early March because we had so many sick people in our church.  At the time we did not know it was already Covid, but in hindsight we believe that at least some of the cases were.   

Bert Perry's picture

Being under the shadow of Mayo, our church board is close to half people working at or retired from Mayo, including multiple doctors and nurses, and the general mood is that while we will (barring really insane decisions) honor the government, we're really going to do due diligence to protect our older members, about a third or so of us total.  I don't envy churches that don't have this expertise to rely on. 

Specific things we're addressing are the chairs (we're thinking of going to steel vs. padded because they sanitize easier) and chair/seating spacing.  We're also looking at how we circulate air, though that looks something like a dead end--as far as I can tell, most commercial/household heating/cooling systems establish comfort through a certain degree of turbulence, which is exactly what you want to avoid if people are coughing.

We'll also be asking older people to be very careful about coming (really encourage them to stay away for a while, which will be painful we concede), and we may actually take a look at things like fever/indications of illness in a way we never have before.  

To draw a picture, one case in Washington involved about a 90% infection rate among a church choir.  If our church would do that among the ~50 senior citizens, we'd likely end up with a significant portion in the hospital and a few fatalities.  We'd make the papers, and not in a good way.

Really, that's the key thing most fundagelical churches need to remember; the low rate of problems in the population as a whole can be a moderate to higher rate of issues when you consider we're "elder-heavy" in our membership.  Be wise.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

TylerR's picture

Editor

When we return, which I estimate will be about four weeks, we'll do something I've wanted to do for a long time. We'll take out the rows of chairs and put in tables, facing the pulpit. Families will sit together at tables. Finally, a space to put drinks, bibles, phones (etc.). What a concept. And, social distancing, to boot!

Our sanctuary is large enough to make this work without a problem. We may have to buy some more tables, but it'll work for right now. I am not anxious to go back to rows of chairs. I've wanted tables for a very long time.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Bert Perry's picture

I've wanted to replace lines of chairs with round tables in my Sunday School class for a while.  Let us know how it goes, Tyler.  Should we blame Constantine, whose enshrinement of Christianity as the "official" religion created the strong dichotomy between clergy and laity that we still see (suffer from? ) today.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.