After weeks of butting heads with the Trump administration over pandemic guidance, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued guidance on Friday for the reopening of religious institutions.
“Gathering together for worship is at the heart of many faith traditions,” reads a statement from the CDC.
“Because there are several published reports of COVID-19 outbreaks sparked by large gatherings, both non-religious and religious in nature, the recommendations released today will help guide faith communities while respecting their fundamental right to gather for worship.”
- Encouraging staff and congregants to wash their hands with soap and water
- Providing hand sanitizer
- No-touch trash cans
- Encouraging the use of cloth masks
- “Suspending or at least decreasing use of a choir/musical ensembles and congregant singing, chanting, or reciting during services,”
- Daily disinfection
- Social distancing
- Limiting the sharing of objects such as books and hymnals
- Identify an area to quarantine people with COVID-19 symptoms
- If someone in a congregation is diagnosed with COVID-19, perform contact tracing and inform anyone with exposure to the person to stay home and self-monitor
- Close off any area used by a sick person and do not use until it has been disinfected – which should be performed at least 24 hours later.
- Designate a staff member to handle COVID-19 concerns
The revised guidance comes after President Trump told a Michigan roundtable on Thursday “I said, ‘You better put it out,’” – one day before calling an impromptu press conference where he announced that places of worship would be deemed “essential,” and called for their reopening.
Trump said that he would “override” governors who keep places of worship closed.