The CDC has called for businesses, hospitals, schools, and individuals to begin preparing to respond to a possible Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and pandemic. This means churches also. Should a pandemic event occur, it would require an immediate, measured, and coordinated parish response. Our parish is small, so it will be less of a burden than it would be on larger communities. It’s not a time for panic, but for careful, measured preparation.
While the immediate risk of this new virus to the American public is believed to be low at this time, everyone can do their part to help us respond to this emerging public health threat. The CDC is recommending that everyone make preparations NOW. Use this guide to prepare, and protect yourself and your loved ones from illness, rumors, and fear. Do not forget to trust in God.
Remember, God loves you and with faith and prayer, all will be well. ASONA will continue to celebrate services, and offer the Holy Mysteries, just as Orthodox Churches have and do around the world. The medicine of immortality can never be the cause of illness.
At the time of writing there is no need to take special measures on suspending Divine Liturgy or Coffee hour. Should that become necessary, more detailed pastoral care guidance will be issued. In order to make it as safe as possible, hand sanitizer will be made available to all upon entrance to the chapel. Please use it when you arrive.
Pastoral care remains important to us and others working in institutions where people with coronavirus are being cared for should seek and follow hygiene guidance from that institution. At the time of writing, individuals in the US continue to remain at low risk from coronavirus. This is expected to change, so stay abreast of news and health updates from the CDC and local authorities.
The best way of protecting us from spread is for everyone to use universal good hygiene, which will effectively disrupt spread of the virus. We should be doing this all the time for ‘flu’. These are basic, but should be firmly instituted in your home and habits:
- Wash and sanitize hands regularly and thoroughly;
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue (discard!)
- Avoid touching your face, eyes, or mouth;
- Clean surfaces, and avoid touching common surfaces.
The CDC has issued guidelines for the public and this remains the best source of advice. Links can be found in the further materials section at the end of this page.
Those who have been asked to self-isolate in the community as a precaution by medical staff will understandably be anxious but equally it is important not to breach this isolation. We will do everything we can to provide all necessary pastoral care and guidance.
Preparing, not Panicking
Have faith, don’t panic, likewise don’t be complacent. If we see a storm coming, we take precautions for what our needs are, but we prepare for the storm, not run for our lives. God is with us. Christ has conquered death. This crisis will come and go, but the Church will remain and continue as it always has.
Make sure you have enough stocks of medication and essential food supplies (canned foods, pasta, protein) and water for at least two weeks, if possible, a month. If you have animals, stock up on what you will need to care for them as well. Supply lines of distribution can be compromised if community wide spread of the virus impacts those who can deliver goods. Take the following steps to ensure you’re not caught without what you need.
Experts wisely caution against panic-buying. By not panic-buying, you will not be taking food from someone else who might be needing it. Buy a little extra of what you normally eat every time you shop. Stock up your pantry and freezer. Make it easy on yourself and others. We do not want to see empty shelves in America.
In times of heightened stress, having regular communication with loved ones is essential. Put a plan together about how and when you prefer to communicate, especially if normal methods of communication go down. For example, if internet service goes down, will you use a phone call or a visit? If phone service is disrupted, etc.
Should it become necessary for you to travel to stay with other family members or friends, it would be wise to keep at least half a tank of gas in the fuel tank of your vehicle. Make sure no serious maintenance is required on your vehicle.
The best defense is a good offense. Coronavirus COVID-19 is like a highly contagious version of the regular flu. Therefore, we can fight catching it the same way.
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, and do so often. At least 20 seconds of good scrubbing with soap will do the trick, THEN rinse with water afterwards (don’t run your hands under water while scrubbing). If you do not have soap and water, use hand-sanitizer. Not sure – see this video! It’s from the CDC and it is short and informative.
Wash or sanitize your hands whenever you leave home or return.
Clean surface areas with a good disinfectant, and avoid touching common surface areas away from home (counters, tables, door handles).
Avoid touching your face, eyes, or mouth (this is harder than you think) before washing your hands.
‘Social Distancing’ means keeping 3 feet away from others, and avoiding contact with anyone who is sick, has flu-like symptoms, or lives with someone who is sick. (it’s nothing personal, but we should be wise about not bringing infection home)
Stay informed of statements about the spread of the Coronavirus from the CDC or other local authorities. Forewarned is forearmed.
Know the Symptoms
The symptoms of COVID-19 infection do not always appear right away, and someone who is contagious can appear perfectly normal for up to 2 weeks before symptoms show up.
Symptoms are much like regular flu symptoms, and include:
- Shortness of breath
If you, or anyone you know, has flu-like symptoms seek medical attention and get tested immediately. The COVID-19 coronavirus is very contagious, more so than the regular flu, so protect yourself and others, and seek medical attention immediately.
What if I get sick?
As of this writing, it appears that the mortality rate for COVID-19 is rather low but this has not been confirmed. It also appears to affect seniors much more than children. If you get sick, here is what to do.
- First, CALL your health care provider. If things get busy, you’ll appreciate knowing when they can see you.
- Isolate yourself from others at home and use a separate bathroom and bedroom if possible.
- Wear a surgical mask. Even if you have one, be sure to practice good sneeze/cough hygiene (into tissues or your elbow sleeve).
- Call a doctor or hospital and tell them your recent travel or close contact history.
- Continue to practice good hand hygiene.
Minimize the spread of any germs by regularly washing and sanitizing surfaces that are frequently touched (door handles, light switches, kitchen and bathroom areas). Clean with household detergent, disinfectant, or water and chlorine bleach. Be thorough.
Managing 14 day isolation
If you find yourself sick with the virus, don’t panic! You’ll be contagious so you’ll be in a self-quarantine. Being in isolation can be stressful, and boring!
- Boost your prayer life. Read the Scriptures, especially the Psalms. Listen to Church services, prayers, and music. Relax.
- Where possible, keep your normal daily routines, eating and exercising as you normally would.
- Arrange to work from home.
- Keep in touch with family members and friends via phone, email, social media, or video chat.
- Learn about Coronavirus COVID-19 and talk with others
- Reassure young children using age-appropriate language
- Contact your child’s school and arrange to have assignments done from home.
- Finally, do things that help you relax and use your time as an opportunity to do activities you usually don’t have time for.
Knowledge is power. Knowledge heals.
At the time of writing, individuals in the US continue to remain at low risk from Coronavirus. This is expected to change, so stay abreast of news and health updates from the CDC and local authorities.
Metropolis of South Korea instructions for protection against Coronavirus
VIDEO: How to Properly Wash Your Hands – YouTube video by the CDC. Don’t assume you know how to do it right!
Center for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 information
John Hopkins Univ. Confirmed Coronavirus numbers
Arizona Department of Public Health
AlertsUSA.com – Subscription text alert message service on threat and safety issues, including Coronavirus information, terrorist attacks, etc. AlertsUSA.com