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COVID-19 transmission in a church - BostonCard - 05-19-2020

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6920e2.htm?s_cid=mm6920e2_w

Their figure is worth 1000 words:

[Image: mm6920e2_ChurchEventsArkansasCOVID19_IMA...medium.jpg]

BC


RE: COVID-19 transmission in a church - newguy - 05-20-2020

i heard that one person in a church choir infected at least two-thirds of the other choristers at a rehearsal.


RE: COVID-19 transmission in a church - burger - 05-20-2020

The newest CDC guidance that the Trump people rejected initially was released today.  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/20/us/coronavirus-live-updates.html#link-3943988b

One of the changes from the earlier version was removing any guidance on religious services.

These idiots don't care if their base voters die.


RE: COVID-19 transmission in a church - oldalum - 05-20-2020

The U.S. Justice Dept. sent a letter to Newsom saying that the failure to include religious establishments in phase 2 violates civil rights.


RE: COVID-19 transmission in a church - terry - 05-20-2020

Church services seem to be a pretty high-risk scenario for spread of infection, IMO. They typically involve close contact in confined spaces for a sustained period of time. Activities such as singing, liturgical responses, and passing the peace could tend to spread virus particles. There often are high-contact surfaces such as communion vessels, collection plates, door handles, and the like. At many churches, there's a lot of hugging and hand-shaking. Many churches have lots of older attendees. I suspect most churches would have a strong negative reaction to requiring a temperature test for admission. From a health standpoint, I think it makes sense to treat church services similarly to concerts, theaters, sports events, and the like.

The DOJ letter to Newsom doesn't claim that there's an absolute right to hold in-person church services. Rather, it argues that churches should be treated the same as schools, offices, factories, and restaurants. If those activities can be conducted with appropriate social distancing, says the DOJ, then church services can too. To allow these other activities, but not church services, discriminates against religious practice, says the DOJ. Therefore, the DOJ argues that church services should be part of the Phase 2 re-opening, and should not have to wait for Phase 3, which is when concerts and sports events will re-open.

I can see the DOJ's argument. But in my view, from a health standpoint, church services are more like concerts than schools or restaurants, so putting churches in Phase 3 is probably best based solely on health considerations. Of course, there are First Amendment issues in play for churches that don't arise with concerts, etc. If I were in Newsom's place, I probably wouldn't fight about this issue. I'd try to work out some way to allow churches to re-open in Phase 2, with social distancing, hygienic precautions, and ideally with masks (though I'm sure a lot of churches won't observe mask requirements).

I'm a regular church attender and I would like to get back to church. Video services and Zoom sessions are a life-line during this time, but they're not the same as in-person services. However, in this context, I think "love your neighbor" means taking care to not infect your neighbor. I'm happy to wait a while longer before going back. But as I said, I don't think Newsom should fight over this.


RE: COVID-19 transmission in a church - 82 Card - 05-20-2020

According to a story on SFGate, a pastor in Mendocina, together with a singer and a camera operator, live streamed a mothers day service from an otherwise empty church. All three are now positive. Maybe there's something dangerous about church even without overcrowding.*
https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/mendocino-county-pastor-tests-positive-COVID-19-15283771.php

*It's possible the three infections are not from the church service. Many churches do important work to help the less fortunate. This may have put them in high risk situations outside of the church.


RE: COVID-19 transmission in a church - Snorlax94 - 05-20-2020

The problem is that many churches are very large gatherings, often with thousands of people, in an enclosed space, with poor ventilation, with many elderly, for a prolonged period of time. Have we already forgotten that the largest superspreading event in the world happened in a Christian church?

Let’s say 1 in 1,000 Californians is currently contagious. 72% of Californians follow an organized religion and 39% of Americans go to church weekly.

If we assume 40% of Californians start going to a religious gathering each week, that’s 16 million peouple.

If 1 in 1,000 Californians are contagious on that Sunday, that could mean 16,000 outbreaks each week.

Even if 90% of contagious people had symptoms or had been tested so they know not to go to church, we would have 1,600 outbreaks a week, and we’d be back to a strict Shelter-In-Place in no time.

I could see permitting spaced-out, outdoor worship services over the summer with a small maximum number of attendees, but trying to open it up as of it’s just a typical restaurant or office would be disastrous.

Maybe your church is small and people would agree not to sing and stay home even if their allergies are bad, but there are so many of immense proportions churches out there, it’ll ruin the country and kill a lot of people in a few weeks if the megachurches are permitted to congregate indoors. The good news is that Catholicism is the most common denomination in the US and my guess is that the Catholic church won’t be as reckless as some lone pastors.


RE: COVID-19 transmission in a church - burger - 05-21-2020

(05-20-2020, 11:17 PM)82 Card Wrote:  According to a story on SFGate, a pastor in Mendocina, together with a singer and a camera operator, live streamed a mothers day service from an otherwise empty church. All three are now positive. Maybe there's something dangerous about  church even without overcrowding.*
https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/mendocino-county-pastor-tests-positive-COVID-19-15283771.php

*It's possible the three infections are not from the church service. Many churches do important work to help the less fortunate. This may have put them in high risk situations outside of the church.

More likely, it has to do with singing and/or talking (especially talking loudly) as good ways to transmit virus by droplets or aerosol. 

https://www.businessinsider.com/loud-talking-singing-spread-coronavirus-further-than-6-feet-2020-3

This is why having people singing in church, even 6 feet apart, may not be safe.


RE: COVID-19 transmission in a church - Mick - 05-21-2020

I think church services are a of immense proportions risk.  The San Jose diocese has been conducting virtual services for quite a while now, and while it's not an ideal substitute for in-person services, it's better than getting infected.  And frankly, I'd never seen the Vatican's services in real time, and I thought it was superb.


RE: COVID-19 transmission in a church - burger - 05-21-2020

This sounds bad:

Quote:“More than 1,200 pastors have signed the ‘declaration of essentiality’ that we were asked to put together,” said attorney Robert Tyler, one of the lawyers fighting for the right of Lodi’s Cross Culture Christian Center to reopen. “We expect more than 3,000 individual churches to open May 31, with or without permission.”

https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article242874211.html

It's almost guaranteed that at least a few of those churches will have infected congregants.


RE: COVID-19 transmission in a church - terry - 05-22-2020

Trump just decreed that churches are "essential places that provide essential services" and need to be opened immediately. Excerpts:

“The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now, for this weekend.”

“If they don’t do it, I will override the governors. . . .”

“If there’s any question, they’re going to have to call me, but they’re not going to be successful in that call."

Trump made no reference to the health risks involved nor to any precautionary measures that should be taken.

Of course, Trump has no authority to override the decisions of governors on this issue. It's ridiculous for him to pretend that he has the power to decide this and that the governors must come to him on bended knee to seek his approval.


RE: COVID-19 transmission in a church - M T - 05-22-2020

I would not be so quick to dismiss the federal government's power to override states restricting church meetings.  Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the US Constitution and so overrides any state law.  The executive branch of the government has in the past sent troops into states to enforce what the federal government saw as constitutional rights.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

It is hard for me to see, notwithstanding my belief that public health SHOULD outweigh this, that the courts would rule that there is a missing clause that allows prohibiting the free exercise of religion or the right to assemble in some cases.   The one thing is that it is Congress that is prohibited from making such a law, but the states are not held to that in this statement.  However, I think the Supreme Court would find that this applies to all levels of government, and possibly to private institutions.

I do think that this clause does not prohibit laws governing aspects (6' minimum, outdoors, etc.) of the manner of that free exercise as long as such laws don't prohibit the free exercise.

Of course, I am no authority on the Constitution.

I think it would be wise for government organizations of all levels met with the religious organizations at all levels to encourage self-restriction by the individual churches.

I expect we have the same problem with (Native American) Indian reservations.  I don't believe the county or the state has authority to influence behavior in those.  I would expect that means that casinos in California could hold tightly packed meetings and gambling.   (However, I DO think the state and counties could try to enforce a 2-week isolation after visiting such a situation. Whether that would be feasible is another question.)


Churches & athletics intersect at Lakewood Church in Houston, in the former Compaq Center that used to host the Houston Rockets.


RE: COVID-19 transmission in a church - burger - 05-22-2020

(05-22-2020, 02:33 PM)M T Wrote:  I would not be so quick to dismiss the federal government's power to override states restricting church meetings.  Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the US Constitution and so overrides any state law.  The executive branch of the government has in the past sent troops into states to enforce what the federal government saw as constitutional rights.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

It is hard for me to see, notwithstanding my belief that public health SHOULD outweigh this, that the courts would rule that there is a missing clause that allows prohibiting the free exercise of religion or the right to assemble in some cases.   The one thing is that it is Congress that is prohibited from making such a law, but the states are not held to that in this statement.  However, I think the Supreme Court would find that this applies to all levels of government, and possibly to private institutions.

I do think that this clause does not prohibit laws governing aspects (6' minimum, outdoors, etc.) of the manner of that free exercise as long as such laws don't prohibit the free exercise.

Of course, I am no authority on the Constitution.

I think it would be wise for government organizations of all levels met with the religious organizations at all levels to encourage self-restriction by the individual churches.

I expect we have the same problem with (Native American) Indian reservations.  I don't believe the county or the state has authority to influence behavior in those.  I would expect that means that casinos in California could hold tightly packed meetings and gambling.   (However, I DO think the state and counties could try to enforce a 2-week isolation after visiting such a situation. Whether that would be feasible is another question.)


Churches & athletics intersect at Lakewood Church in Houston, in the former Compaq Center that used to host the Houston Rockets.

The constitution is not a suicide pact.  Free exercise can take a back seat for a few months.  Everyone is still free to pray however they want and go to as many Zoom services as they feel like.


RE: COVID-19 transmission in a church - Farm93 - 05-22-2020

The POTUS message was designed to create a blue state governor vs POTUS event and distract from the 100K death milestone that could happen over the long weekend.  I can only guess we will see more and more of these types of declarations in the next 5 months as POTUS tries to create a reason for people to vote for him despite his handling of the COVID pandemic.

The easiest way for a governor to address this newly created conflict will be to allow the churches to open, but then require they operate consistent with other entities in a similar phase.   Everyone must be 6 feet apart, capacity limited at 25% of stated capacity, everyone must wear masks, etc. etc.   I think most states were already pretty close to opening up churches anyway, so perhaps that was also a factor in President Trump's decision to make his declaration today.

I personally would not jump into a church, but I suspect it is probably a similar risk to eating in a restaurant.   It is hard for me to believe eating at TGIF is in some way more essential than opening a church.   The announcement is unfortunate because USA churches will have all of the challenges identified elsewhere around the globe, and the announcement will likely lower the use of masks as people may feel the worst is over now.


RE: COVID-19 transmission in a church - 2006alum - 05-22-2020

Just going to put this out there:





As for the legal question, until the Supreme Court found in the mid-20th century that the 14th Amendment's "substantive" due process clause incorporated the Bill of Rights against the states, the First Amendment was silent as to what the states can do vis-a-vis their own parishioners. 

Just putting that out there for anyone who wonders why it only references Congress:

Quote:Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

Tl;dr the police powers of the state long pre-date the First Amendment's protections of citizens vis-a-vis their states.


RE: COVID-19 transmission in a church - Snorlax94 - 05-22-2020

But it isn’t Congress making this law.  

Anyway, This whole thing is a show. Trump — or at least his advisors who are remotely competent — know he has no power to override local health codes. Just because there is freedom of religion doesn’t mean churches can ignore building and fire codes and police and fire departments have no power to enforce local restrictions. This is just a show. Trump is taking this playbook from Russia, where Putin is hiding out far from Moscow, has put localities in an impossible situation, then when people die and doctors fall from windows, he rails against the local governments who are “failing the people.”

It is just another sickening example of deception and destructive populism, further eroding rule of law, making life more difficult for local governments, fomenting anger and division in this country, and in general making the pandemic worse. It reminds me of his neo-nazi and xenophobic populism during the 2016 election — very harmful to the country, but in his view helpful to his election chances. It’s the same disregard for the good of the country, the same ruthless selfishness, the same dishonesty, the same pathology, but now with pandemic consequences.


RE: COVID-19 transmission in a church - BostonCard - 05-22-2020

Whatever you think of church reopening, this sucks.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/mississippi-church-burned-coronavirus-social-distancing-restrictions-arson/

BC


RE: COVID-19 transmission in a church - terry - 05-22-2020

(05-22-2020, 02:33 PM)M T Wrote:  I would not be so quick to dismiss the federal government's power to override states restricting church meetings. Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the US Constitution and so overrides any state law.  The executive branch of the government has in the past sent troops into states to enforce what the federal government saw as constitutional rights.  

I'm not dismissing the federal government's power to override states on this issue. Rather, I said that Trump has no authority to override the decisions of the governors. 

Whether state laws are unconstitutional is not for the President to decide. The President has not been granted some kind of free-floating, unilateral power to review whichever state laws catch his attention and to strike them down by fiat. That's not how the system works. 

Rather, the power of reviewing the constitutionality of state laws belongs to the courts, not the President. Someone who is affected by a state law may challenge that law in the courts (state or federal). If the courts declare a state action unconstitutional, they have the power to strike down that action and to order an appropriate remedy.

You mentioned the executive branch sending in troops to enforce constitutional rights. I assume you're talking about enforcement of federal court desegregation orders. The President didn't just wake up one morning and say "You know what, I think segregated schools are unconstitutional and I'm going to send in troops to fix it." Rather, the troops were sent in only after the federal courts -- including the Supreme Court -- had declared the state laws unconstitutional and the state governments had defied or refused to enforce the federal courts' orders.

Trump said that he was going to override the state governors' orders. But he just doesn't have that power. Period.


RE: COVID-19 transmission in a church - dabigv13 - 05-22-2020

6 more cases linked to the initial 3 cases from a church in Mendocino that had live streamed a service, apparently socially distanced with only 3 people involved, the pastor, the singer, and the person filming. 

https://mendovoice.com/2020/05/six-new-covid-cases-connected-to-redwood-valley-church-service-angelo-this-is-not-the-time-to-let-your-guard-down/

I think any church service that wants to resume will need to be outdoors, or require universal masking.


RE: COVID-19 transmission in a church - terry - 05-22-2020

(05-22-2020, 02:33 PM)M T Wrote:  "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

It is hard for me to see, notwithstanding my belief that public health SHOULD outweigh this, that the courts would rule that there is a missing clause that allows prohibiting the free exercise of religion or the right to assemble in some cases. 

It's not clear that "shelter in place" laws are unconstitutional infringements on religion. The Constitution allows limitations on personal freedom for public health reasons. The courts have upheld various laws requiring quarantines, vaccinations, and the like. See Jacobson v. Massachusetts (1905) and similar cases. 

Generally speaking, religious groups are subject to "neutral laws of general applicability." If the law is not being applied to discriminate against religion, it generally will be upheld. See Employment Division v. Smith (1990) and similar cases.

It's my understanding that the religion-based challenges to "shelter in place" orders generally have been unsuccessful. That is, most courts have upheld temporary, emergency SIP orders that apply broadly to everyone. 

As the states start to open up other activities, they will need to treat religious services comparably to similar non-religious activities. Otherwise there could be constitutional problems. 

In practice, I think this problem will go away. I think most governors probably will want to find some way to authorize re-opening of churches.