CDC Releases Recommendations for Communities of Faith

Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare

Friday afternoon, May 22, 2020, the CDC released Interim Guidance for Communities of Faith.  This online interim guidance was also reviewed again the following day.  This was posted about 1 week after the original guidance which did not include religious organizations/communities.  I’m posting this as our LTC/Senior Living communities are part of the greater community where they’re located.

“CDC offers the following general considerations to help communities of faith discern how best to practice their beliefs while keeping their staff and congregations safe.  Millions of Americans embrace worship as an essential part of life.  For many faith traditions, gathering together for worship is at the heart of what it means to be a community of faith. But as Americans are now aware, gatherings present a risk for increasing spread of COVID-19 during this Public Health Emergency. CDC offers these suggestions for faith communities to consider and accept, reject, or modify, consistent with their own faith traditions, in the course of preparing to reconvene for in-person gatherings while still working to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

This guidance is not intended to infringe on rights protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution or any other federal law, including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA). The federal government may not prescribe standards for interactions of faith communities in houses of worship, and in accordance with the First Amendment, no faith community should be asked to adopt any mitigation strategies that are more stringent than the mitigation strategies asked of similarly situated entities or activities.

In addition, we note that while many types of gatherings are important for civic and economic well-being, religious worship has particularly profound significance to communities and individuals, including as a right protected by the First Amendment. State and local authorities are reminded to take this vital right into account when establishing their own re-opening plans.”

This guidance includes:

  • Scaling up operations
  • Promote healthy hygiene practices
  • Cloth face coverings
  • Intensify cleaning, disinfection and ventilation
  • Promote social distancing
  • Take steps to minimize community sharing of worship materials and other items
  • Nursery/Childcare
  • Staffing and training
  • Check for signs and symptoms
  • Plan for when a staff member or congregant becomes sick
  • Maintain healthy operations
  • Signs and messages