Coronavirus COVID-19: How Will It Affect Worship?

2020년 4월 5일 업데이트됨

Note: This is a 'living' article and will be updated as we learn more about the affect this coronavirus is having on ministries and their operations. Check for a full list of pandemic materials.

As we continue to hear reports of the spreading of COVID-19, known as the coronavirus, in countries around the world, including here in the United States and our state of California, there is growing concern about how this impacts our practice of faith and what should be our response.

BREAKING NEWS: The WHO declared a global pandemic on 3/11/20.

At ChurchWest Insurance, we also know that the level of anxiety among our faith communities may vary depending on their experience and connections with other countries that are already experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19.

These recommendations are only suggestions. You must do what is right for your ministry's unique needs.

Recommendations for Ministries

The CDC has released the following COVID-19 guide for Houses of Worship:

Get Your Community- and Faith-Based Organizations Ready for Coronavirus Disease 2019

With regard to practices in daily school events and worship, please consider the following actions:

  1. The faithful should be encouraged to not hold hands during worship or other gatherings.

  2. Clergy and staff should be especially reminded of the need to practice good hygiene.

  3. All clergy must be encouraged to wash their hands before worship begins.

  4. All clergy and parishioners attending worship services should use an alcohol based antibacterial solution of at least 60% alcohol before and after worship.

  5. Implement enhanced janitorial procedures in the Sanctuary and across campus to further eliminate the presence of germs and infectants.

  6. Leadership of the ministry should also vigilantly practice proper hygiene throughout their time of work and at home. This includes the frequent washing of hands with soap and water, and proper coverage when coughing or sneezing.

  7. Encourage both employees and volunteer pastors and clergy to stay home if they are sick so as to not risk infecting others with flu or any other serious illness.

  8. Maintain in regular contact with public health officials of both state and local counties to monitor the potential presence of COVID-19 in our local area. Should that change, and there are local public health emergency declarations, ministries should be prepared to implement more substantial restrictions on worship, school and ministry public gatherings.

We also have a great new, exclusive resource for screening for COVID-19. We've partnered with MedCall, a leader in the field of tele-emergent care medical services utilizing technology to immediately connect anyone experiencing a medical event with a board certified physician in Emergency Medicine.

In addition, you can grab the Church Law & Tax Guide to Coronavirus for Churches, here:

There's also a fantastic legal and risk management considerations response plan for churches as places of worship and work: (account required)

Finally, David "Fletch" Fletcher over at has a great, special course on "Coronavirus and Church." The five-week course walks through the Coronavirus Circle of Ministry. As things may change every week for the next month, the course aims to stay on top of the latest developments. Even better, it will keep your ministry ahead and protect your church, keep ministry going, and service your community.

The Concept of Social Distancing

Contra Costa Health Services in the San Francisco Bay Area recommends the following social distancing efforts:


  • People at higher risk of serious illness should not go to mass gatherings such as parades, sporting events, religious services, celebrations and concerts where people are within arm’s length of each other and there are 50 or more people

  • Avoid people who are sick

  • Telecommute if possible


  • Cancel or postpone large gatherings such as concerts, sporting events, celebrations, conventions, religious services and community events where 50 or more people are within arm’s length of each other.

  • Cancel or postpone events for or attended by older adults or others who are at higher risk for severe illness.

  • If a large event does take place, organizers should follow California Department of Public Health guidelines for mass gatherings.


  • Suspend nonessential employee travel

  • Minimize the number of employees working within arm’s length of each other, including minimizing or canceling large, in-person meetings and conferences

  • Urge employees to stay home when sick and maximize flexibility in sick leave benefits

  • Do not require a doctor’s note from employees who are sick

  • Consider telecommuting for appropriate employees

  • Consider staggering start and end times to reduce large numbers of people coming together at the same time


  • Do not go to school if you are sick

  • Equip all schools and classrooms with hand sanitizers and tissues

  • If there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 at a school, we will work with the school and district to determine the best measures including potential dismissal.

  • Explore distance learning and online options to continue learning

  • Make backup plans for childcare given the potential for school dismissals

5. Guidance for the General Public: We're All In This Together The best ways for all California residents to reduce their risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 are:

  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds

  • Cover coughs or sneezes with disposable tissue or the crook of an elbow

  • Stay home from school or work when you are sick

  • Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands

  • Use a barrier, such as a paper towel or tissue, to touch commonly touched surfaces, such as bathroom door handles and elevator buttons

  • Bump elbows or bow instead of shaking hands

  • Regularly clean frequently touched surfaces

  • Get vaccinated against the flu if you haven’t already

  • If you have recently returned from a country, state or region with ongoing COVID-19 infections, monitor your health and follow the instructions of public health officials

  • If you are ill, call your health care provider before visiting. Phone consultation may be adequate

  • Avoid non-essential trips to emergency rooms, hospitals, nursing homes and long-term care facilities. If your loved ones are there, substitute in person visits for phone or video visits

  • Check in by phone with friends, family and neighbors that are at risk of serious illness

6. People can also prepare for possible disruption caused by an outbreak:

  • Stock up on the essentials in case of shortages and if you need to stay home

  • Make sure your earthquake kit is up to date and ready to go – it is full of vital supplies you can use for any emergency

  • If you can, obtain a two-month supply of medications or consider using a mail order pharmacy

  • Think about how to care for loved ones at home if they or you get sick, including how to prevent other family members from becoming infected

  • Prepare to work from home if possible

Center for Disease Control: COVID-19 Q&A & Recommendations

These recommendations come direct from the U.S. CDC. They're more focused on secular organizations, but the rules are still good practice.

  1. What is coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)? Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.

  2. Can people in the U.S. get COVID-19? Yes. COVID-19 is spreading from person to person in parts of the United States. Risk of infection with COVID-19 is higher for people who are close contacts of someone known to have COVID-19, for example healthcare workers, or household members. Other people at higher risk for infection are those who live in or have recently been in an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19. Learn more about places with ongoing spread at transmission.html#geographic.

  3. Have there been cases of COVID-19 in the U.S.? Yes. The first case of COVID-19 in the United States was reported on January 21, 2020. The current count of cases of COVID-19 in the United States is available on CDC’s webpage at

  4. How does COVID-19 spread? The virus that causes COVID-19 probably emerged from an animal source, but is now spreading from person to person. The virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It also may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. Learn what is known about the spread of newly emerged coronaviruses at coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/transmission.html.

  5. What should I do if I recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19? If you have traveled from an affected area, there may be restrictions on your movements for up to 2 weeks. If you develop symptoms during that period (fever, cough, trouble breathing), seek medical advice. Call the office of your health care provider before you go, and tell them about your travel and your symptoms. They will give you instructions on how to get care without exposing other people to your illness. While sick, avoid contact with people, don’t go out and delay any travel to reduce the possibility of spreading illness to others.

  6. Is there a vaccine? There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to take everyday preventive actions, like avoiding close contact with people who are sick and washing your hands often.

  7. Is there a treatment? There is no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19. People with COVID-19 can seek medical care to help relieve symptoms.

  8. What are the symptoms of COVID-19? Patients with COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of: + fever + cough + shortness of breath

  9. What are severe complications from this virus? Some patients have pneumonia in both lungs, multi-organ failure and in some cases death.

  10. How can I help protect myself? People can help protect themselves from respiratory illness with everyday preventive actions.   Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. If you are sick, to keep from spreading respiratory illness to others, you should:

  • Stay home when you are sick.

  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

CDC & Other Pandemic Resources


Other Secular Resources

Dr. James Robb, MD, FCAP, who is a molecular virologist and former professor of pathology at University of California, San Diego, is an expert on coronavirus.

Dr. Robb has the following, additional suggestions on precautions that can be taken:

  • NO HANDSHAKING! Use a fist bump, slight bow, elbow bump, etc.

  • Use ONLY your knuckle to touch light switches. elevator buttons, etc. Lift the gasoline dispenser with a paper towel or use a disposable glove.

  • Open doors with your closed fist or hip - do not grasp the handle with your hand, unless there is no other way to open the door. Especially important on bathroom and post office/commercial doors.

  • Use disinfectant wipes at the stores when they are available, including wiping the handle and child seat in grocery carts.

  • Wash your hands with soap for 10-20 seconds and/or use a greater than 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer whenever you return home from ANY activity that involves locations where other people have been.

  • Keep a bottle of sanitizer available at each of your home's entrances AND in your car for use after getting gas or touching other contaminated objects when you can't immediately wash your hands. The hand sanitizers must be alcohol-based and greater than 60% alcohol to be effective.

  • If possible, cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue and discard. Use your elbow only if you have to. The clothing on your elbow will contain infectious virus that can be passed on for up to a week or more!

  • Any disposable surgical mask will help prevent you from touching your nose and/or mouth. We touch our nose/mouth 90x per day without knowing it! This is the only way this virus can infect you - it is lung-specific. The mask will not prevent the virus in a direct sneeze from getting into your nose or mouth - it is only to keep you from touching your nose or mouth.

  • Use latex/nitrile disposable gloves for use when going shopping, using the gasoline pump, and all other outside activity when you come in contact with contaminated areas.

  • Zinc lozenges have been proven to be effective in blocking coronavirus (and most other viruses) from multiplying in your throat and nasopharynx. Use as directed several times each day when you begin to feel ANY "cold-like" symptoms beginning. It is best to lie down and let the lozenge dissolve in the back of your throat and nasopharynx. Cold-Eeze lozenges is one brand available, but there are other brands available.

Note: This virus is spread in large droplets by coughing and sneezing. This means that the air will not infect you! BUT all the surfaces where these droplets land are infectious for about a week on average - everything that is associated with infected people will be contaminated and potentially infectious. The virus is on surfaces and you will not be infected unless your unprotected face is directly coughed or sneezed upon. This virus only has cell receptors for lung cells (it only infects your lungs). The only way for the virus to infect you is through your nose or mouth via your hands or an infected cough or sneeze onto or into your nose or mouth.

Of course, this is only useful information, and if you have more questions about coronavirus please consult with your doctor.

Let us remember in this fearful time that we are called to be both vigilant in protecting ourselves and our brothers and sisters from this health threat and show our solidarity with those who suffer in fear and illness from this virus.

Note: Some material taken directly from, Church Law & Tax, Contra Costa Health Services, and Dr. James Robb, MD, FCAP ... it has been posted with no changes to preserve accuracy.

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