Brethren Disaster Ministries is offering resources and recommendations to help Brethren congregations and members better understand the Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak and ways to respond. Included are links to trusted websites to visit frequently for updates and suggestions. Contact Brethren Disaster Ministries at 800-451-4407 for more information.
The current outbreak of the respiratory illness that is caused by a novel coronavirus, Covid-19, was first identified in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, at the end of December 2019. Health officials are monitoring the spread of the virus that has affected tens of thousands of people in China and around the world.
On Jan. 30, the World Health Organization declared an international health emergency defined as “an ‘extraordinary event’ that constitutes a risk to other countries and requires a coordinated international response.”
While most of the cases and deaths from this virus have occurred in China, occurrences anb deaths are now being reported in many countries. The Centers for Disease Control has issued a warning to expect the spread of the virus in the United States as well.
Many of the precautions and resources listed below also apply to prevention of Influenza (the flu) and other illnesses that are more common in the US but can also be deadly.
Websites to track
The following websites are updated frequently with applicable information as the virus is being tracked:
Center for Disease Control (CDC) Coronavirus page www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/index.html
World Health Organization (WHO) Novel Coronavirus 2019 page also is tracking and addressing myths about the virus www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
Travel alerts can be tracked on this website: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html .
Screenings have started at select US airports. Some airlines have limited or cancelled flights to and from China and other affected areas.
CDC Travel updates and recommendations can be tracked at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html .
There is currently no vaccine to prevent Covid-19 infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. The CDC recommends these everyday, preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:
-- Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available.
-- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
-- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
-- Staying home when you are sick.
-- Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in the trash.
-- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.
(source: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html )
Ideas for churches to prevent the spread of illness
Give permission for peace signs, fist bumps, and elbow touches to replace hugs and hand shaking.
Make hand sanitizer available throughout the church.
Place a box of tissues in every pew.
Encourage people to wash their hands and post reminder signs throughout the church. ( www.cdc.gov/handwashing/materials.html ).
Wipe down everything touched by churchgoers, like door handles, pew tops, and railings.
Limit potlucks and other nonessential large gatherings.
Host conference calls or video chats as alternatives for face-to-face meetings, as possible.
Review your church's emergency operations plans and communication plans in the context of a pandemic.
Advise church staff and congregation members to review their family emergency plans, and take time to prepare now. For more information go to www.ready.gov/sites/default/files/FamEmePlan_2012.pdf .
Create plans to enable church staff to work remotely if that becomes a necessity.
Remind your congregation that rumor control is essential. Please get information from trusted sources like state health officials and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC's "Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease" is at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/guidance-business-response.html .
Spread the word that all people should seek medical care if they require it.
Printable prevention resources
Here are websites where you can find posters to download and display to help with the spread of a variety of illnesses in your community: www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public and www.cdc.gov/handwashing . A CDC Print Resource that may be helpful for communications with employees and/or church members is a fact sheet that includes "What you need to know" and "How to stop the spread of germs" and is available at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/communication/factsheets.html .
Please share these resources with the members of your church and district, and track the websites for up-to-date information on this outbreak and prevention.