March 10, 2020
Dear American Baptist Family:
I join you in our common concerns regarding the effects of COVID-19, which is being referred to as the coronavirus.
We continue to be in prayer for the recovery of those who are ill, the medical teams caring for the sick and, for those who are working to contain and combat the virus.
While much uncertainty still exists regarding the virus, here are a few quotes posted on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website:
- COVID-19 was first detected in China and has now been detected in almost 90 locations internationally, and 35 states within the U.S. COVID-19 is part of a family of Coronaviruses.
- Reported illnesses from the virus have ranged from very mild (including some with no reported symptoms) to severe, including illness resulting in death. Information collected so far suggests that most COVID-19 related illnesses are mild.
- Older people and people of all ages with severe underlying health conditions — like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, for example — seem to be at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness.
- Symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath have surfaced 2-14 days after exposure. Persons are most contagious when they are most symptomatic.
- Persons with the illness have contracted it through travel and through close contact with known cases. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
In addition to seeking to curb the spread of illnesses, another reason to try to contain the disease is so that local health agencies will not be overwhelmed by many persons contracting the disease at the same time in the same area. To help contain the disease, please continue to practice everyday preventive behaviors as listed below:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60%-95% alcohol.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your bent elbow when you cough or sneeze.
- Routinely clean frequently touched objects.
- Maintain at least 3 feet between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early.
- Avoid shaking hands and encourage the congregation to greet one another with a smile and a hand over their hearts as a symbol of Christian love.
- Have hand sanitizer available for communion servers to use prior to distributing the elements. You may want to consider using individual cups and pieces of bread rather than a common cup and loaf of bread.
For several years, American Baptists have been learning and practicing how to have respectful dialogue with one another through our “Mission Summit Conversations” and “Baptist Talk.” We have learned how to listen well, how to seek to understand before responding, and how to show respect in our conversations. We have learned that “how” something is said is as important as “what” is said.
Let us lead the way as we discuss our concerns about this illness and other matters with our friends, family, and neighbors. May we express concern without panic, calmness in our questions, and kindness in our conversations. Now is not the time for blame or condemnation. Rather, now is the time for care, compassion, and empathy. Every crisis is an opportunity to share God’s love and compassion with others.
Additional information can be found at the following website as well as your state health department websites.
Grace and Peace,
Rev. Dr. C. Jeff Woods
Acting General Secretary
***NOTE: View Additional Resources at www.abc-usa.org/coronavirus***