Just as your city may be reopening, the rules about what’s permitted and what isn’t during the coronavirus era keep changing—and on Friday, one rule changed within a matter of hours.
After the CDC posted new guidelines about social gatherings, “the Trump administration with no advance notice removed warnings contained in guidance for the reopening of houses of worship that singing in choirs can spread the coronavirus,” reported the Washington Post. “Those guidelines posted on the CDC website included recommendations that religious communities ‘consider suspending or at least decreasing use of choir/musical ensembles and congregant singing, chanting, or reciting during services or other programming, if appropriate within the faith tradition.'”
The changed language now says: “Promote social distancing at services and other gatherings, ensuring that clergy, staff, choir, volunteers and attendees at the services follow social distancing, as circumstances and faith traditions allow, to lessen their risk.”
Why the Change?
The “CDC posted the wrong version of the guidance,” one official told NPR, adding, “The version that is currently up on the website is the version cleared by the White House.”
The change is noteworthy because on May 12, the CDC issued a report about a high coronavirus “attack rate following exposure at choir practice” in Skagit County, Washington. “Superspreading events involving SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, have been reported,” read the report. “Following a 2.5-hour choir practice attended by 61 persons, including a symptomatic index patient, 32 confirmed and 20 probable secondary COVID-19 cases occurred (attack rate = 53.3% to 86.7%); three patients were hospitalized, and two died. Transmission was likely facilitated by close proximity (within 6 feet) during practice and augmented by the act of singing.”
Potential Superspreader Danger
The new CDC rules makes no mention of this report. The change came during a time when President Donald Trump has been encouraging houses of worship to open “right now,” declaring them “essential” and ordering state governors to declare them so.
On the other hand, the May 12th CDC report ends with advice directed straight at those communities: “The potential for superspreader events underscores the importance of physical distancing, including avoiding gathering in large groups, to control spread of COVID-19. Enhancing community awareness can encourage symptomatic persons and contacts of ill persons to isolate or self-quarantine to prevent ongoing transmission.”
Discuss with your community what’s best for you. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.