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Old 05-16-2020, 08:57 PM
Mike Mabes is offline
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how concerned should I be about my Mom's church reopening?


Mom is still in our hometown, a small town in SW Virginia. Radford. Near Blacksburgh (go Hokies!). The church does not have one of those idiot pastors, more than a dozen of whom are now dead, who insists that God will protect them. There have been no services in the past couple of months, but week after next they will have them. Not in the usual place, which is fairly compact, but in the gymnasium area and they will limit the number of people to half capacity, and put chairs 6 feet apart. No Sunday school.

The latest info I can find is that there are still have been only 3 cases of COVID in that town, and those are on the east side of town where the university is (some idiot student went on spring break and brought it back with her). The chuch is on the west side. The city has been shut down like the rest of the country for the past couple of months.
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Old 05-16-2020, 09:06 PM
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Has she said anything about it?

A lot can change between now and the 24th.
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Old 05-16-2020, 09:07 PM
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I would be at least somewhat concerned. Church usually involves people singing together, and that seems to be a way to spread the virus. Do you know about the case of the Washington state choir practice where lots of people became infected?
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Old 05-16-2020, 09:13 PM
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Being spaced far apart is good, but everyone needs to wear masks and NO congregational singing and NO taking communion.
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Old 05-16-2020, 10:10 PM
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Being spaced far apart is good, but everyone needs to wear masks and NO congregational singing and NO taking communion.
If everyone is wearing masks, why would singing be a problem?
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Old 05-16-2020, 10:38 PM
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I would be at least somewhat concerned. Church usually involves people singing together, and that seems to be a way to spread the virus. Do you know about the case of the Washington state choir practice where lots of people became infected?
I didn't but they are not going to do that. And since I still always seem to screw up multi-quote, Thelma Lou, no communion. This is a Baptist church.

The pastor is an intelligent, decent man, he is not going to leave it up to God to protect the people. I actually had this conversation with Mom a couple of months ago, and she agreed God does not protect idiots. If you drive 100 mph down Main St., God is not going to protect you from killing yourself or others.

Even so, the church has a website. I think maybe, if I can, I should write to him and get more details about the exact plan. I don't want to seem like a busybody butting in, and I understand the need to have in person services. I would guess that at least half of the congregation is over 60, and for many the weekly Sunday service is a high point of their week.
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Old 05-16-2020, 11:06 PM
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For my last service (Lutheran) before we shut down, our Communion was bread only.
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Old 05-16-2020, 11:34 PM
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I could not find a personal email for the pastor, but I found the email of the church. Below is what I wrote, pretending to still be a believer. There is some bullshit about the "great experiment" and that we don't know what will happen with states opening up too soon. We know that there is going to be a great increase in the number of cases. But I don't want to beat him over the head with the truth, lest I be exposed as a liberal, God-denying pagan.

I got this email from the Calvary web page.

I am ____, son of _____. Pastor ____, I belive you had the privledge to be there when my Dad got saved. As he said, "It only took 50 years for Mom to get me down the aisle."

Anyway, I just spoke to Mom on the phone and she told me that the church will have live services starting next week. And that they will be held in the gymnasium area of the church. As I have lived in NYC for the past 30 years, I have only been at the church once a year when I come home for Christmas. I don't know how large that area is, but from what I understand you are going to allow up to 100 people there. Is that area large enough to maintain 6 foot distances? Will you ask people to wear masks?

Both of these are the best recommendations we now have from the medical experts. Now, and as I said to Mom, we don't know all the answers yet about the best way to combat this virus. But this is the best strategy we now have. And we must follow the most precautionary steps. A year from now, if it turns out that we were being overly cautious, no one will have been hurt. The minor inconvenience of wearing a mask at a service pales in comparison to what could happen.

It only takes one person who is infected, who doesn't even know that they are infected, to infect an entire church.

Finally, I am asking you to consider waiting just a couple more weeks. We are now at the start of a great experiment in this country. States are opening up, people are starting to go to restaurants and other places. But as this virus has a 14 day incubation period, we will not know if this is safe until the end of May. The last time I checked, Radford only had 3 cases of COVID. The risk to ____ members seems minimal. But as I have said, it only takes one person who is infected to lead to disaster. One person who goes to one restaurant gives it to two or three or other people who give it to four or five more, and so on.

Ephesians 5:15. Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise

Proverbs 14:16. The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with reckless confidence
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Old 05-16-2020, 11:53 PM
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Iím opposed and I know that part of the country fairly well. I know you said Radford and not Blacksburg. Thereís a particular small church in Blacksburg that was still thinking they could pray the gay away as recently as 2017.

Thatís a very conservative area and Iím just not confident the congregation will obey the social distance rules.
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Old 05-17-2020, 12:05 AM
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Iím opposed and I know that part of the country fairly well. I know you said Radford and not Blacksburg. Thereís a particular small church in Blacksburg that was still thinking they could pray the gay away as recently as 2017.

Thatís a very conservative area and Iím just not confident the congregation will obey the social distance rules.
That is my concern. Mom was telling me about a plant, Inland Motors, that was deemed an essential business, and all is fine. I didn't ask what precautions they were taking. I would assume they are taking precautions, hence no spread of the virus. But it may be that it just hasn't gotten down to that corner of Virginia. Hell, many thought things were fine in Sweeden, without lock downs, until they weren't fine.

And now that all is well these states start opening up before they have even met the criteria for doing so. But they are going to have to find out the hard way, with pain and death.

I just hope it happens soon. A few thousand deaths now may prevent tens of thousands in six months. But I don't want my Mom to be one of those sacrificial lambs.

ETA. If the pastor says to follow distancing rules, they will. That is the main point of my email.

Last edited by Mike Mabes; 05-17-2020 at 12:07 AM.
  #11  
Old 05-17-2020, 06:38 AM
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Not church, but our neighborhood has some folks in their 30s and 40s who have been having a once-a-week happy hour type of thing on the side walk/street. It's BYOChair and BYOB, come sit six feet away and chat, tell us how your quarantine is going etc. They assemble, have a few beverages, and they let their little kids run around. Before you know it they kind of slip into standing too close etc.

I get why people want to gather: many are social beings and this is deprivation. Few are disciplined or focused enough to do it right, however, from what I've seen. I think you're right to be concerned.
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Old 05-17-2020, 07:09 AM
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Our fire department is dealing with this right now. Some are pushing for having the monthly meeting in person, others still want it online. At this time the consensus is both will happen next meeting at the choice of the firefighter.

The ironic part is our doctor (we are lucky to have a firefighter who is also a medical doctor), just sent us some training info about COVID-19 spread via indoors and HVAC systems and their air flow pattern they create. Two factors of that are relevant to the OP's concern. Air moving systems such as HVAC, or even a outdoor breeze can carry the virus in infectious levels further than the 6 ft guideline. So that 6 ft distancing doesn't exactly work if the air is moving.

The second one is that there appears to be a infectious dose of virus, under that level your fine, over that you stand a increasing chance of infection. Something like one sneeze in a room can spread a infectious dose pretty much everywhere in that room (assuming a large room, but not a church setting), this is due to the viral shedding, the amount of droplets containing the virus, the size of the droplets creating additional hang time, and the speed of the sneeze that propels the droplets. A cough will have less viral load and lower velocities, and more droplets will drop to the floor sooner, but also can be quite infectious in closer proximity. But the more concerning part is normal breathing will produce enough viral shedding that over time the dose can be high enough to be infectious. Talking and singing increases the rate of viral shedding. It's dose over time exposed. So even sharing the air with a infected person for time frame of 1-2 hours could be enough, though each exhalation contains very little viruses.

Indoor gatherings seem to be the crux of that, and for that reason several members who wish to have the meeting in person are also saying that if the weather is good to have the meeting outside.
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Old 05-17-2020, 09:46 AM
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If everyone is wearing masks, why would singing be a problem?
Same with communion (in case of denominations that have that), assuming they want you to wear the mask throughout.

I see politics creeping in here as usual when churches are discussed, as in relating it to the denomination's view of sexual orientation which has pretty much nothing to do with the question at hand. That question is one mainly of belief not science, scientific inferences may play some role but secondary. Science is an auxiliary argument at most to the main actual one: 'you should accept our positive beliefs about same sex orientation and abandon the traditional negative ones of your belief tradition, because our beliefs are better'. Which is fine if you feel so: predominant societal beliefs never change unless someone promotes new ones as better. As long as it's honesty presented as what it is, mainly opposing beliefs, not science v anti-science.

In contrast, the degree of health risk from sitting indoors 6' apart with masks (singing/no singing, etc*) in a given locality (prevalence of COVID varies extremely widely by place) really is a purely scientific question. However, unfortunately a scientific question we don't seem to have a precise quantitative answer to now. If attending a worship service (of any religion) is not important to you, or even something you'd positively avoid in normal circumstances, then obviously it's preferable risk-wise to spend that time at home (in most situations anyway). However, if it is important to you to attend the service, it's just not clear AFAIK what trade off you are making against safety to attend. It could be very close to zero risk. I think it's fairly clearly not outright reckless. But the exact answer doesn't seem to be known, and will practically be determined by actual experience I think.

*some old churches are also immense spaces volume wise, 10's of feet head room, that could be a factor also.

Last edited by Corry El; 05-17-2020 at 09:51 AM.
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Old 05-17-2020, 10:14 AM
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If everyone is wearing masks, why would singing be a problem?
First of all, why would you sing if you're wearing a mask?

But secondly, singing increases the number of droplets that would escape from the mask. Beyond that, I doubt every single person there will be wearing a mask.
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Old 05-17-2020, 10:19 AM
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Consider this example:

https://www.businessinsider.com/coro...-deaths-2020-5

Quote:
A single choir practice session in Washington resulted in 53 coronavirus cases and two deaths.

The virus spread to 87% of attendees at the session, which the CDC said "underscores the importance of physical distancing."

The CDC also noted that this kind of spread is intensified aided by "super-emitters" ó people that release more particles during speech than most people do.

Officials said the group was able to stop the virus spreading further by self-isolating even before public health bodies were told of the outbreak.
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Old 05-17-2020, 10:30 AM
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Our church, where I'm on the board, is trying to follow the county/state guidelines, as well as additional guidelines from our synod (ELCA Lutheran), as well as feedback from the congregation.

The synod is asking churches not to reopen until there have been six weeks of declining infections, the county says no groups larger than ten people, and a number of our congregants have said they'll wait until a vaccine is available.

To a lot of older congregants, church is pretty much their last social outlet. However, those are the members of our congregation who are most wary about coming back anytime soon. How's your mother's overall health? How badly does she want to go to church? I would advise her to wait 2-3 Sundays after church reopens to see if there's a spike in reported cases. If things seem to be under control, then she might consider attending, with a mask, and without socializing.

Last edited by Kent Clark; 05-17-2020 at 10:32 AM.
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Old 05-17-2020, 10:53 AM
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Consider this example:

https://www.businessinsider.com/coro...-deaths-2020-5

Quote:
A single choir practice session in Washington resulted in 53 coronavirus cases and two deaths.

The virus spread to 87% of attendees at the session, which the CDC said "underscores the importance of physical distancing."

The CDC also noted that this kind of spread is intensified aided by "super-emitters" ó people that release more particles during speech than most people do.

Officials said the group was able to stop the virus spreading further by self-isolating even before public health bodies were told of the outbreak.
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Old 05-17-2020, 10:54 AM
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1. First of all, why would you sing if you're wearing a mask?

2. Beyond that, I doubt every single person there will be wearing a mask.
1. I would think if masks are required, then no singing.

2. If the church authorities say they don't care if you wear a mask, then a lot of people probably wouldn't. But if they say you must wear one, it's very unlikely IME that people coming to be a part of that community, it's not a random crowd, it's not the relationship of a customer to a store, would ignore it, or moreover brush off the ushers at the door handing them one if they're aren't wearing one.

So the question would really be, does the church require masks? Not that we actually have hard figures as to what difference that would make on top of 6' distance, but that's a potentially real difference. I don't think there's actually a serious issue of enforcement if they seriously intend for everyone to wear them. Anyway the general curve of mask effectiveness in a crowd almost surely doesn't have a big knuckle at 100% minus one person v just 100%.

Last edited by Corry El; 05-17-2020 at 10:57 AM.
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Old 05-17-2020, 11:38 AM
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First of all, why would you sing if you're wearing a mask?
Why would one preach, give bible readings, or report the news wearing masks? I've seen all three recently.

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But secondly, singing increases the number of droplets that would escape from the mask.
Do you have a cite for that assertion?

Your link below states that the choir wasn't social distancing, and there is no mention of masks, one way or the other.
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Old 05-17-2020, 12:22 PM
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...
Your link below states that the choir wasn't social distancing, and there is no mention of masks, one way or the other.
I think it's a combo of 2 put together, that talking (thus singing, and that is a form of talking) increases virus shedding over breathing, and masks block a percentage (even the N95 masks block a percentage, which is 95%).
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Old 05-17-2020, 12:45 PM
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Do you have a cite for that assertion?
Singing is more forceful projection than normal speech. Do you need a cite for that?

If you're pushing air more forcefully through a mask, it's likely that more of the little droplets in your exhalation that the virus hitches a ride on will get through your mask. Do you need a cite for that?
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Old 05-17-2020, 01:00 PM
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Do you have a cite for that assertion?
If I want to spit, do I need a cite to prove that wearing a mask would greatly reduce the amount of saliva that escapes? Some things are just self-evident.

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Originally Posted by D'Anconia View Post
Your link below states that the choir wasn't social distancing, and there is no mention of masks, one way or the other.
That may or may not be true, but assuming that's the case, accepted definition of social distancing has generally been around 6 feet.

I've got some news for you: the virus can travel through the air a lot farther than that.

https://www.webmd.com/lung/news/2020...ravel-on-shoes

Quote:
The novel coronavirus can travel 13 feet through the air and be carried around on peopleís shoes, according to a new report from the CDC.
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/...et/5091526002/

Quote:
Lydia Bourouiba, an associate professor at MIT, has researched the dynamics of exhalations (coughs and sneezes, for instance) for years at The Fluid Dynamics of Disease Transmission Laboratory and found exhalations cause gaseous clouds that can travel up to 27 feet.
Quote:
The idea that droplets "hit a virtual wall and stop there and after that we are safe," is not based on evidence found in her research, Bourouiba said, and also not based on "evidence that we have about COVID transmission."
Translation: The default recommendation of 6 feet as a standard definition of social distance is malarkey, and people are going to reopen restaurants, churches, and everything else thinking that they're distancing themselves, and they're going to end up in a graveyard because of what they don't know.

The people in the Washington State church were singing, which projects droplets further than merely talking. Singing is somewhere between talking and coughing, but since it's sustained, and since everyone's doing it at the same time, it's arguably the worst thing you can do.

This is not to say that you couldn't, in theory, pull off small church gatherings with some extreme caution and really good preparation and precautions taken. The reality, however, is that very few people know how to pull this off because they just don't understand how the virus is spread or how it is contained.
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Old 05-17-2020, 02:24 PM
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Your mom should assume that there will be people at church who are contagious and that the air will have contaminated droplets. Due to the fact that it's an indoor space with the same group of people rebreathing the same air, it's very likely for everyone to breathe each other's air. In addition, each person in the congregation will not be striving for the same level of precautions, so she can't count on others being as safe as possible. Even if people wear masks, there's no consistency in mask or guarantee of proper mask usage. She should consider everyone as being maskless regardless of whether they have a mask or not.

Taking all that into consideration, your mom should take whatever precautions she needs to so that she can be safe in that environment. An improvised mask is not going to be sufficient. At a minimum she'll need a surgical mask and wear it properly. If she wants to socialize with people, do so outside from a safe distance so that any contaminated droplets will be disbursed in the outside air. She should not socialize with people indoors as the air is stale and will be full of contaminated droplets.
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Old 05-17-2020, 03:20 PM
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Why would one preach, give bible readings, or report the news wearing masks? I've seen all three recently.



Do you have a cite for that assertion?

Your link below states that the choir wasn't social distancing, and there is no mention of masks, one way or the other.
Study published by the New England Journal of Medicine:

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.105...ed_coronavirus

Last edited by Ellecram; 05-17-2020 at 03:22 PM.
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Old 05-17-2020, 03:26 PM
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Mom is still in our hometown, a small town in SW Virginia. Radford. Near Blacksburgh (go Hokies!). The church does not have one of those idiot pastors, more than a dozen of whom are now dead, who insists that God will protect them. There have been no services in the past couple of months, but week after next they will have them. Not in the usual place, which is fairly compact, but in the gymnasium area and they will limit the number of people to half capacity, and put chairs 6 feet apart. No Sunday school.

The latest info I can find is that there are still have been only 3 cases of COVID in that town, and those are on the east side of town where the university is (some idiot student went on spring break and brought it back with her). The chuch is on the west side. The city has been shut down like the rest of the country for the past couple of months.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/graph...ge%2Fstory-ans

Sorting this chart by state, Virginia is hardly on the downswing. I'd be concerned, and no way would I gather with others. I go to work, where everyone acts like we're over this. Sorting the above chart to Illinois is eye opening.
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Old 05-17-2020, 03:43 PM
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1. That may or may not be true, but assuming that's the case, accepted definition of social distancing has generally been around 6 feet.

2. I've got some news for you: the virus can travel through the air a lot farther than that.

Translation: The default recommendation of 6 feet as a standard definition of social distance is malarkey,
1. It was almost certainly true given the timeline, and the data point therefore probably worthless to estimate the risk with social distancing.

2. It's not remotely clear that it's 'malarkey'. There's always going to be disagreement about it, especially if you don't specify a confidence level. Far enough apart to *never* transmit the disease? But that's not a realistic goal.

And the items in media for a long time about particles droplets traveling X distance or remaining airborne for Y time are not tied into an actual probability of *enough* of them to make somebody sick. It's basically not ethically feasible to directly test the actual question.

Like I said before, if you attach no positive value to the activity in question and you could instead stay home alone, you'd stay home alone. But if the activity does have perceived value, 100% safety is no longer the goal and it's actually pretty hard to say how far below 100% safety it is with varying assumptions of the precautions, also how big volume to floor area and how well ventilated an indoor space, and also the local prevalence of COVID which varies very widely.

The other empirical observation I'd give about general effectiveness of standard measures like 6' and masks is in my town (in NJ right next to NY). The rate of new infections is now running around 10% of the early May peak. But it's obvious and has been all along that not everybody follows 6' distance or mask guidelines. Big gatherings indoors haven't be held, but 'malarkey' and quotations of extreme possible distance for virus particles to travel far beyond 6' implies the measures don't work anywhere. But they clearly do work to a highly significant extent, if the infection rate can drop that much despite many people obviously not rigorously following them.

It's just not clear actually whether strict adherence to 6' and masks at indoor gatherings would be a significant risk. And 'significant' will also be defined by people for themselves, with work, and with meetings of religious or other organizations important to those people.

Last edited by Corry El; 05-17-2020 at 03:46 PM.
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Old 05-17-2020, 03:54 PM
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Study published by the New England Journal of Medicine:

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.105...ed_coronavirus
Unless I missed it, that link says nothing at all about singing.
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Old 05-17-2020, 04:05 PM
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Unless I missed it, that link says nothing at all about singing.
See, whenever any tries this hard to be ignorant, they may as well just come right out and acknowledge that they don't wear face protection in indoor public spaces. Because that's really what they're saying.
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Old 05-17-2020, 05:07 PM
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1. I would think if masks are required, then no singing.
You're making an assumption. A lot of people have made a lot of assumptions with COVID-19 that haven't ended up too well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Corry El View Post
2. If the church authorities say they don't care if you wear a mask, then a lot of people probably wouldn't.
Churches have authorities? Authority to do what? So let's see if I've got this right: they feel safe enough (brave enough is more like it) to congregate in substantial numbers right in the middle of a pandemic, but they're going to send someone home if one or two people show up without a mask? If half of them show up without a mask, are they going to cancel the service?

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Originally Posted by Corry El View Post
But if they say you must wear one, it's very unlikely IME that people coming to be a part of that community, it's not a random crowd, it's not the relationship of a customer to a store, would ignore it, or moreover brush off the ushers at the door handing them one if they're aren't wearing one.
IME, that can happen, but it often doesn't. Look at how many people are out in the open saying "Fuck it, I'll wear a mask if I want, or not." Remember: it took one - just one - asymptomatic carrier to cause a super outbreak in one church. 87% of people got infected.

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Originally Posted by Corry El View Post
So the question would really be, does the church require masks?
That's one question - one of many.

A better one is, is their ventilation?

Another one: do they have ventilation?

Do they plan to sing?

How will they enforce 'the rules'? Are they really going to send people home? Are they going to suspend a service? I doubt it. By opening and having a service, it's essentially saying "We're opening in defiance of the risks associated with living in a pandemic." It's an act of optimism - and it's delusional.

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Originally Posted by Corry El View Post
Not that we actually have hard figures as to what difference that would make on top of 6' distance, but that's a potentially real difference. I don't think there's actually a serious issue of enforcement if they seriously intend for everyone to wear them. Anyway the general curve of mask effectiveness in a crowd almost surely doesn't have a big knuckle at 100% minus one person v just 100%.
I agree. But you're hoping that it's just one person who ignores the rules. It's a gamble - a gamble with the upside being that churchgoers don't get infected for another week. But if they lose, they lose tens of thousands of dollars in medical expenses. And they just might end up going to heaven sooner than expected.
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Old 05-17-2020, 05:18 PM
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Unless I missed it, that link says nothing at all about singing.
Here's some relevant info: The Risks - Know Them - Avoid Them.

She summaries a few reports to give info on how people catch the virus. She says a minimum number of virus particles needed for an infection is about 1000. Different activities release different amounts of droplets which may contain the virus:

- Single breath: 50-5000
- Cough: 3000
- Sneeze: 30000

The droplets may contain multiple virus particles. A sneeze may have 200 million virus particles in the expelled droplets.

The more forceful the breath, the more droplets from the lower respiratory system are expelled. Since the lower respiratory system is where the CV19 virus is most plentiful, projecting your voice will release more virus particles than calm breathing.

She mentioned a Washington State choir where 45 of the 60 choir members got infected even though they took steps to ensure social distancing and no contact.
Quote:
Singing, to a greater degree than talking, aerosolizes respiratory droplets extraordinarily well. Deep-breathing while singing facilitated those respiratory droplets getting deep into the lungs. Two and half hours of exposure ensured that people were exposed to enough virus over a long enough period of time for infection to take place.
  #31  
Old 05-17-2020, 08:12 PM
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I would be a lot less concerned with the situation you're outlining than just opening up a church randomly. They're aiming for social distancing measures, seating people apart, in a larger area than usual, after two months of non-contact. It doesn't sound like that's the kind of church where people will feel pressured to go, or to get closer than is safe. It's a baptist church, so there's no shaking of hands or communion.

For your Mom, I assume she's fairly old. Some of the other parishioners might be even older. There might come a point where they can't go to church for non-corona reasons, and time is short to see people and make contact - non-physical.

TBH it sounds like a reasonable way to still be part of a faith community without being careless about transmitting diseases, and being part of a community, faith or otherwise, helps people's mental health enormously.
  #32  
Old 05-18-2020, 07:28 AM
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Originally Posted by D'Anconia View Post
If everyone is wearing masks, why would singing be a problem?
We've known for decades that masks are less effective when the wearer is talking than when the wearer is silent. Here's a 1961 study. There have been many more.

And yeah, singing is just talking melodically.
  #33  
Old 05-18-2020, 07:45 AM
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I would wait a month before going back to any meeting of more than couple of family members no matter what the function. I believe we are going to see quite a few spikes two weeks after all these places "open up" and that people in high risk groups (such as your mom and myself) need to continue self isolation until we actually see data that shows the area is on the decline or new cases are virtually eradicated.

I live outside of Detroit and 95% the people here (except those idiots protesting in Lansing) wear mask when they go into a confined place. I went down to Ohio on Mothers days and observed that on 15% of the people at Walmart had mask on. I'm thinking your mom might live in a typical situation. Don't let her risk it if you can.
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Old 05-18-2020, 10:31 AM
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1. You're making an assumption. A lot of people have made a lot of assumptions with COVID-19 that haven't ended up too well.

2. Churches have authorities? Authority to do what? So let's see if I've got this right: they feel safe enough (brave enough is more like it) to congregate in substantial numbers right in the middle of a pandemic, but they're going to send someone home if one or two people show up without a mask? If half of them show up without a mask, are they going to cancel the service?

3. I agree. But you're hoping that it's just one person who ignores the rules. It's a gamble - a gamble with the upside being that churchgoers don't get infected for another week. But if they lose, they lose tens of thousands of dollars in medical expenses. And they just might end up going to heaven sooner than expected.
1. I'm not citing that example as proof of anything, you are. Thus it's you who need to show it's actually comparable, rather than me have to show it's not. And nobody is saying an indoor gathering without social distancing is safe. If the question is 'should I worry my mom's church is opening not doing anything different than they would have in May 2019?' then we all know the answer, 'yes'. The question here is what social distancing (plus masks if so) would do. So you need examples of bad outcomes with at least social distancing, as far as examples (it's not beyond reason to try to theorize based on aerodyamics of particles, mask leakage etc, but that's not actual epidemiological evidence, it doesn't tell you anything really except risk isn't zero).

2. Absolutely they do, but you're missing the more basic point that people show up for a religious service as members of a community. It's not even like trying to make tourists at a historic religious building wear or not wear this or that type of clothing. People with the attitude is 'I'm checking this out but I'm the boss of me and I don't care what these people want', don't show up as participants in a service, pretty much any religion. If the church authorities (just a catch all phrase to denote it might be an independent pastor in a one-off Protestant church, or my parish priest who also has to pay attention to what the archdiocese says, or various gradations in between, in synagogues, mosques etc also) affirmatively require spacing and masks that's extremely likely to happen pretty uniformly among people who want to come to that gathering as part of a community. And if somehow people didn't do it many places of worship would in fact cancel, so that's really a follow on question, 'my mom's church started services, she says people aren't distancing, what now?'. And of course she does not have to keep going or even stay the first time if so.

3. 'But what if she catches it in the time it takes her to realize the very first time that lots of people aren't wearing masks or distancing!?!?' That's back 0% difference in risk from staying home being an appropriate standard if you put zero necessity or value on the added activity. The added risk is probably something, but it could be very small if it's a big space and only a small % of people don't wear masks, none near you, and there's a perceived positive benefit to going.

But again I think you're stuck on a mental model of it being a bunch of people coming to a place strictly as individuals with no perceived common interest or mutual responsibility except as 'citizens'. That's not the typically the case in a religious congregation. If the church authorities clearly say to wear masks highly likely virtually everyone will. If they aren't clear about it, perhaps a meaningful % don't...then you can leave.
  #35  
Old 05-18-2020, 11:52 AM
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Right, our church (ELCA Lutheran) trusts our pastors and Congregational leadership. They even trust our Bishop and Synodical leadership to a point. But if they don't trust our Synod's leadership, they go to their Pastor or Council President. If they don't trust them, they end up going to a different church.

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  #36  
Old 05-18-2020, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by ISiddiqui View Post
Right, our church (ELCA Lutheran) trusts our pastors and Congregational leadership. They even trust our Bishop and Synodical leadership to a point. But if they don't trust our Synod's leadership, they go to their Pastor or Council President. If they don't trust them, they end up going to a different church.

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I think trust is certainly part of it. But in fact, nobody knows for sure what IS "safe." As someone said on the board somewhere, it's a matter of risk assessment. And even with leadership you trust and consider well-informed, each person must assess their own risk and decide how much they can tolerate.
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  #37  
Old 05-18-2020, 04:30 PM
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Oregon is currently fighting over whether the governor must re-open churches. My churchiest neighbors have regularly been sitting with friends and non-resident family in front of their house, about 2 feet apart. I'd estimate their cluster as 12 people at a minimum (they've also been within 3 feet of at least two working nurses, both of whose spouses have been within arm's length of other neighbors and their children's friends).

Last edited by susan; 05-18-2020 at 04:30 PM.
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