Coronavirus Recommendations

Dear Florida Conference workers and members,

The purpose of this letter is for you and your family, our churches and schools, and our faith community centers to be informed and prepared regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

After consulting with local denominational public-health medical professionals and the Southern Union Communication Department, the following resources are offered for your benefit to inform and prepare your community.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) gave guidance on March 2, 2020, addressing “worship services” and other gatherings.  Here is the link:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/mass-gatherings-ready-for-covid-19.html

Additional information from the CDC:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/index.html

From the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists:

https://news.adventist.org/en/all-news/news/go/2020-03-02/adventist-world-church-president-calls-for-prayer-regarding-the-coronavirus-covid-19-worldwide-devel/

 

General Guidelines and Recommendations:

 

Before a COVID-19 outbreak in the church community

  • Meet with planning team to address personnel, security, services, activities, functions, and resources
  • Know (and prepare to follow) the local health department’s outbreak response and mitigation plan

 

Key strategies in the outbreak response plan

  • Discourage people who are sick (fever, cough, shortness of breath) from attending
  • Promote personal health habits (stay home when sick, cover coughs/sneezes with tissue and/or elbow, wash hands often, clean frequently touched surfaces)
  • Provide prevention supplies at events (sinks with soap, hand sanitizers, tissues)
  • Plan for absences of key leaders
  • Identify a space to isolate participants who may become ill at an event
  • Limit physical contact at events
  • Be prepared to postpone or cancel in-person events, planning TV, radio or online

 

During an outbreak

  • Stay informed
  • Work with and follow the local health department guidance (be prepared to not have in-person meetings)
  • Communicate with congregations regularly
  • Address the fear and anxiety from rumors and misinformation
  • Consider alternatives for high risk groups
  • Do not allow obviously sick people at events
  • Consider postponing or canceling events

 

After outbreak has ended

  • Meet with planning team and capture learnings
  • Maintain and expand planning team
  • Participate in community-wide emergency preparedness activities

 

Church leadership should also think carefully about non-essential business (or personal) travel and reassess or limit their visitation to congregants in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, or assisted living.

Additionally, you and your family are precious to the Lord, to the Florida Conference, and to your community. Take comfort in the promise given to us, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand,” Isaiah 41:10.

Tim Goff, D.Min, M.Div
Florida Conference Executive Secretary