COVID-19 :: Government Declarations
(14 July 2020)
Camp Luther ... Vespers Knoll cross
West Virginia - Western Maryland Synod
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
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Since important notices related to COVID-19 might be sent by Roadshow, you may want to sign up. More information about the Roadshow can be found at the Members Portal.


Facebook

We also use Facebook to share information. If you have a Facebook account, you can check us out on the WV-WMD Synod Facebook page.

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.

CDC/POTUS:

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.

The CDC has opened a "One-Stop Shop Toolkits" page with resources for various communities (conveniently organized by community). There is a block for Community and Faith-Based Organizations, but a more comprehensive set of CDC materials can be found on its master page for Community and Faith-Based Organizations. Even if you have looked at these before, you should do so again. CDC updates these from time to time with the latest recommendations. Additionally, you will find on these various CDC pages, postors that you can download and print.

State/Commonwealth

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 jurisdictions.

Maryland RecoveryState 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 Information Portal.

Roadmap to Recovery

Maryland 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

  • 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.
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.

VDH LogoCommonwealth of Virginia: Update 7/14/2020

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 website, https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/.

VDH has issued guidelines for faith-based organizations. those guidelines and supporting resources can be downloaded here.

WV DHHRState of West Virginia: Update 7/7/2020

Mandatory Mask Order

Amid rising numbers of cases, Gov. Justice issued Executive Order 50-20, effective 7 July 2020, requiring face coverings (masks, etc.) in confined, indoor spaces. §1 of the order reads,

All individuals age 9 and over within the State of West Virginia Shall wear an adequate face covering when in confined, indoor spaces, other than when in one's residence or when actively engaged in the consumption of food and/or beverage, and when not able to adequately social distance from other individuals who do not reside in the same household.

There are exceptions for children under the age of 2 and "anyone who has trouble breathing,...is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance." Read the complete order for details.

Congregations following the synod guidelines related to masks and social distancing are already in compliance with Executive Order 50-20.

Outbreaks

Outbreaks across WV have taken place in different contexts, but there are some similarities.

Morgantown Bars

Just as the 4th of July weekend began, bars in Morgantown began to close. Barhopping and close quarters coupled with alcohol's tendency to reduce inhibition and impair judgment have been identified as a dangerous combination.

Morgantown Gym

200 patrons of Planet Fitness, a Morgantown gym, were asked to self-quarantine, as contact tracers identified a case that had contact with the gym.

Myrtle Beach

Several in WV have tested positive in late June for Coronavirus in connection with vacationing at Myrtle Beach, Preston County being hit particularly hard.

Church-related

Gov. Justice, in a press conference (10 June 2020) drew attention to multiple Coronavirus outbreaks related to churches, encouraging churches to follow the safety guidelines put out by the state. To view this portion of his press conference, click here.

Safer at Home Chart

Safer at Home

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.

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,
  • 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 contact;
    • Business must ensure that proper social distancing and hygiene practices are maintained.
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."

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.

 
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West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod, ℅ St. Paul Lutheran Church, 309 Baldwin Street, Morgantown, WV 26505
304-363-4030  +  Porter@WV-WMD.org