COVID-19 cases update, suggestions for drive-in faith services
Gov. Ralph Northam said Friday the state is continuing to prepare the Hampton Roads Convention Center as an alternative care site for COVID-19 patients in late Spring, when a surge in cases is expected. The Virginia Department of Health said that as of Friday morning there were 2,102 cases of COVID-19, 312 people hospitalized because of the virus, and 46 deaths.
Also Friday, the governor said the state encourages using alternative means of worship - including electronic and drive-in service - as we approach Easter and other religious events. City Manager Mary Bunting said that the city will not require a permit for drive-in religious services. Del. Marcia Price, who represents parts of Hampton and Newport News, worked with the governor's office to compile these suggested guidelines:
Make sure you are hosting the service on your own property or with the written permission of the property owner.
Make sure the cars are far enough apart such that if someone were to sneeze or cough in one car, it does not affect someone in another car.
Those leading the service who may be outside of their cars need to practice social distancing, remaining six feet apart, and be in a group of 10 or fewer people at all times. Even band or praise dance team members need to remain six feet apart.
Sanitize surfaces for those that are leading the service. COVID-19 is still being studied but the CDC guidance [cdc.gov] is to keep surfaces clean because the virus can live on them. Be careful to wipe down surfaces if multiple people will use them, including podiums, microphones, and instruments.
Please DO NOT pass a collection plate from car to car as this would undo all of the hard work you are doing to keep social distancing. Be careful collecting money because the cash may not be safe to handle. And in thinking of communion or programs or any shared items, think of ways for this to be a totally non-contact event.
People from different households should NOT carpool to the service together because they would not be able to maintain the six feet needed. Families that live together can travel in and attend in the service in the same car.
Please keep in mind that those on the higher risk list should probably just stay home. For a list of conditions that may make someone higher risk, click here [cdc.gov].
Price said: "While we all want to underscore the original intent of the Executive Order and ask that faith communities focus on live streams and ways of doing ministry that allow members to stay home. We also appreciate your desire to be in compliance with the order should you choose to have a drive-in service."
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