Abundant Health Team Updates COVID Guidelines



On May 3, with COVID-19 cases and deaths declining in most U.S. states, and more people are being vaccinated against the virus, the Conference Abundant Health Team issued updated COVID-19 guidelines for Western PA churches. 

While the news is good news, the team said in an email to clergy and church leaders, "it is important to remember that the pandemic is not yet over. We must continue to take precautions to keep our congregations, our communities, and ourselves safe and healthy and to help us all get back to normal eventually."

The email states that, in accordance with CDC guidelines at this time, churches should:

  • Encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID-19
    • COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective
    • Side effects (like headache, fever, chills, fatigue, and body aches, as well as pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site) are common, normal, and typically short-lived
    • It takes time for your body to develop immunity against the virus. You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose of a two-dose vaccine or two weeks after a one-dose vaccine
    • Everyone 16 years of age and older in the United States is now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine at no cost
    • People who are fully vaccinated can start to do some things they had stopped doing because of the pandemic. See https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated.html

  • However, even fully vaccinated individuals should still take precautions to keep themselves and others healthy
    • Only about 30% of people in the U.S. were fully vaccinated as of May 2
    • We are still learning much about COVID-19 and the vaccines
      • How well vaccines prevent spread of the virus to others
      • How long immunity from the vaccines lasts
      • How many people need to be vaccinated before most people can be considered protected (population or herd immunity)
      • How effective vaccines are against new variants of the virus
  • Even fully vaccinated individuals should avoid large gatherings indoors
    • Outdoor events are safer than indoor events
    • Continue to offer virtual options for those who are at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19
    • Keep these numbers in mind when planning worship services and other church activities
    • In Pennsylvania, indoor events are currently limited to 25% max occupancy and outdoor events are limited to 50%  (NOTE: Gov. Tom Wolf announced on 5/4/2021 that he expects to lift occupancy limits in Pennsylvania, effective May 31. Masks requirements will remain in place until 70% of the population is vaccinated.)
  • For indoor public gatherings and in crowded settings outdoors, precautions should be taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (even for those fully vaccinated*):
    • Individuals 2 years of age and older should wear a snuggly-fitting mask over their noses and mouths
    • Maintain at least 6 feet distance between people from different households
    • Commonly touched surfaces should be disinfected
    • Avoid sharing objects that cannot be easily cleaned and disinfected
    • Wash and sanitize hands frequently
    • Stay home if you are sick
    • Avoid singing, especially indoors
    • Keep a list of attendees at any church event for contact tracing purposes
    • Practice good hand hygiene and physical distancing while serving communion
    • Follow the advice of state and local public health experts, as guidelines are frequently being updated

*For public gatherings (like a worship service where people from multiple households are gathered together), the vaccination status of other people or whether they are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 may not be known. This includes children 15 years of age and under who are not yet eligible for vaccination.



The downloadable infographic Choosing Safe Activities may be helpful to individuals and church leaders.