COVID-19 :: Government Declarations
(18 May 2020)
Camp Luther ... Vespers Knoll cross
West Virginia - Western Maryland Synod
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
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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:

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.

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.

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

WV DHHRState of West Virginia: Update 5/4/2020

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 Chart

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,
  • 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