President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency, and Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has declared a peacetime state of emergency and issued a "stay at home" executive order for Minnesota that will be in effect from 11:59 Friday, March 27 to 5 p.m. Friday, April 10. The Centers for Disease Control and Minnesota Department of Health have also recommended people to maintain social distancing of at least six feet per person.
Guidance for churches:
The Minnesota Council of Churches is hosting weekly conference calls with Minnesota judicatory leaders and Minnesota Department of Health leaders. Here are some takeaways from those conversations:
- The COVID-19 situation in Minnesota and corresponding recommendations are changing almost daily, but churches should anticipate and plan for not being able to have in-person worship for longer than eight weeks. (At this time, Bishop Ough has asked all churches to suspend in-person worship and gatherings until at least May 10.)
- Even for churches of less than 20 people and for churches in counties where COVID-19 cases haven’t yet been identified, it is critical to suspend all in-person gatherings and follow health agency recommendations. The goal is prevention; once the virus is in a community, it is too late to stop it from spreading.
- The vast majority of people infected with COVID-19 have mild cases and recover fully. This virus is not a death sentence or something to be feared. The community mitigation strategies in place are intended to slow the spread of the illness so that if or when you or your loved ones are infected, the health care system has the bandwidth to help you should you require it.
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