It is important for church leaders to consider local trends in incidences of COVID-19, severity of the illness, and what is known about transmission as they make decisions about resuming face-to-face activities, Dr. Werner Ernst-Bischoff said in a webinar on January 13.
Dr. Bischoff, an epidemiologist at Wake Forest Baptist Health, presented an update to a group of church clergy and lay leaders about COVID-19, status of the vaccination effort, and how to best protect their congregations.
Individual church members can help facilitate “regathering” by being vaccinated when they have an opportunity, Dr. Bischoff said. He said people should address their specific medical situations with their own physicians, but that he was not aware of anything that would be a contraindication for vaccination. People should also continue to follow requirements for physical distancing, wash their hands frequently, and wear masks whenever they are with others who are not part of their households. Fol-lowing accepted safety precautions and waiting to regather until it can be done safely is how churches can reopen their facilities more quickly and stay open.
Health care workers, long-term care residents and staff, and people 65 or older are in the groups currently eligible for vaccination in North Carolina.
The webinar is available at https://faithhealthnc.org/regathering-congregations-2021/
The Church Council decided that the HVBC campus closure will continue for February and March, with the provision that in case of an unexpected improvement in the pandemic metrics and vaccination numbers, the Regathering Workgroup could revisit this decision.