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It is very difficult to keep up with the executive orders
issued by Federal and state/commonwealth governments. We
are trying our best to keep this information up-to-date,
but, should you be aware of more recent information,
please send a note to Bishop@WV-WMD.org, including the
link to the site were you saw the information. Official
government sites are preferred.
When trying to determine what applies in your community,
keep in mind that the most restrictive of Federal, state,
and local orders should be followed.
30 March 2020 news outlets related that the President of
the United States has extended the previously recommended
14-day "flatten the curve" measures through the end of
April. Now that May has arrived, government is easing
restrictions and some localities.
Center for Disease Control (CDC) provides a wide range of
information and guidances related to COVID-19. The front
page for this information may be accessed at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
At this site, there is special guidance for faith
communities under the title, "Community and Faith-Based Organizations:
Plan, Prepare, and Respond." This guidance includes
checklists, disinfecting protocols, and more.
Be advised local governments may impose emergency
measures which give force of law to elements of the
Federal guidance or even exceed it. Keep tuned to
announcement from Federal, state, and local officials.
The following states and commonwealth are included because
WV-WMD Synod has congregations physically located in those
State of Maryland: Update 5/18/2020
The latest on Maryland and COVID-19 can be found through
the Maryland Department of Health's COVID-19
Roadmap to Recovery
Strong: Roadmap to Recovery is the state's plan for
phased lifting of COVID-19 related restrictions. A state
webpage is dedicated to this roadmap (click
here to visit). On this page you will find
Gov. Hogan's most recent orders applicable to churches and
religious facilities have been promulgated under Executive
Order #20-05-31-01, "Amending and Restating the Order
of May 6, 2020, Allowing Reopening of Certain Businesses and
Facilities, Subject to Local Regulation." Provision III.a.
of the order makes specific reference to religious
facilities. N.B., county and municipal governments and
health departments may have stricter standards than those
promulgated by the state and permitted by the current level
assigned to the county. Be sure to check with your county
and municipal officials and continue to do so to remain
current with the changing situation.
- A link to a downloadable 30-page
PDF of the roadmap released April 24;
- Reopening Status in Maryland’s Jurisdictions with an
interactive map that updates daily; and
- Links to executive orders and interpretive guidance.
Virginia: Update 5/4/2020
According to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH)
website, as of 4 May 2020, the state of emergency, declared
through Executive Order #53 (2020), effective
23 March 2020, is still in place. Detailed information
related to Virginia and COVID-19 can be found on the VDH
State of West Virginia: Update
Governor Justice issued new protocols titled, "Safer at
Home," that went into effect at 12:01 AM, 4 May 2020.
Coupled with West Virginia Strong--The Comeback, a
plan for the phased "reopening" of government, public, and
private entities, Safer at Home presents both opportunities
and challenges for churches.
Hotspots: Update 5/18/20
Press reported today (Monday, 18 May 2020) that all counties
have been removed from the "hotspot" list. N.B.,
Local health departments and governments still retain
authority to take actions necessary to control the spread of
COVID-19, and WV State Police is authorized to assist local
governments in enforcement of county orders. Be sure to
check your local status.
Safer at Home
For those WV churches in counties that are not listed as
hotspots, Executive Order #32-20 should be
reviewed. A summary chart of Safer at Home can be
copied for easy reference. Under Safer at Home, churches are
still considered "essential," but the Synod still advises
that the higher standards set out in the states orders
should be followed, i,e,
Irrespective of all other aspects of the Safer at Home
order, the elderly and and those classed in the vulnerable
population category are "strongly encouraged to remain at
home to the greatest extent possible."
- For purposes of gathering, whether worship,
educational, or social, the attendance cap of 25 people
should be observed;
- For office and other daily operations, churches should
consider themselves small businesses:
- Can operate if business has 10 employees or fewer
AND with limited customer interaction and customer
- Business must ensure that proper social distancing
and hygiene practices are maintained.
Special guidance has been issued by the state for both churches
and small businesses. These should be
reviewed when developing reopening plans. Remember too to
review CDC guidelines. Note well, it is not required that
one reopens one's church. Prudence should trump passion. The
State of WV encourages churches to
- Limiting seating to every other pew,
- Maintain physical distancing, and
- Wearing face covering.
Again, the full guidance
for churches should be consulted.
It should be noted that these orders may be superseded,
and reimposition of tighter restrictions is not
impossible. Regularly checking for changes in
Federal, state, county, and municipal declarations and
orders is recommended.
For more information about COVID-19 and the State of WV,
visit WV DHHR's COVID-19 website.