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Health crisis risk management

Health Crisis graphic

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The Federal Centers for Disease Control CDC website

Johns Hopkins real time worldwide tracking of  COVID-19 dashboard

Federal Response on COVID-19

Michigan Department of Heath & Human Services website

Need another resource?  Looking for advice? Please contact Michigan Communications

A message from Bishop David Bard

From the earliest days of the Church, healing and caring for the sick and suffering have been an important dimension of the Christian way. “They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them” (Mark 6:13). “Are any among you suffering? They should pray…. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord” (James 5:13-14). The Christian Church often established institutions of health and healing as it also shared the good news of God’s love in Jesus Christ.  Please use these resources to protect your community, your family, and yourself. 



LAST UPDATED:  Thursday, March 3, 2021 4:30 PM EDT

On February 4, 2021, Governor Whitmer and MDHHS again extended their “Emergency Order." 

Capacity limits for gatherings

  • For indoor residential gatherings, up to 15 persons from 3 households are permitted
  • For indoor nonresidential gatherings, up to 25 persons are permitted
  • For outdoor residential gatherings, up to 50 persons are permitted
  • For outdoor nonresidential gatherings, up to 300 persons are permitted

Capacity limits for venues/facilities

  • Where applicable, venues must not exceed 50% of the capacity limits established by the Fire Marshal
  • For indoor stadiums and arenas, up to 375 patrons are permitted at venues with capacity of under 10,000, and up to 750 patrons are permitted at venues with capacity of over 10,000

Note: Groups must remain at least 6 feet apart at all times at all venues and facilities.

This latest Emergency Order goes into effect on March 5 and remains in effect through April 19, 2021.  You can view the full Emergency Order here and see the summary Infographic here.

Recent news about the coronavirus continues to encourage caution. Cases of COVID-19 remain high across our nation and state, as do hospitalization rates. In some places across the country, the availability of intensive care unit beds is critically low. According to the Brown School of Public Health ( Michigan remains at the highest risk level across the state, the level of unchecked community spread. A new, more contagious strain of the coronavirus has been found in the United States.

The CDC has released a vaccine that is expected to end the COVID-19 crisis.  But it will take any months and perhaps a year before the use of masks and social distancing can end.  With over 13,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Michigan, the Michigan Department of Health and many county health officials continue to urge that local churches follow state health COVID-19 guidelines. 

Bishop Bard urges congregations to continue to  follow the best medical guidelines available and offer strong health crisis risk management around COVID-19.  Local churches are urged to pay close attention to the guidelines of local health officials; to wear a mask, maintain social distance, wash your hands frequently and for the current time not hold in-person worship.

"I continue to be grateful for the thoughtful and careful ways you have all been making decisions about ministry during this pandemic. You continue to respond graciously, even when you are encouraged to do uncomfortable things, such as refrain from in-person worship. Your desire to act in the interest of public health, the common good and the well-being of others all in the spirit of Jesus. I appreciate that." -Bishop David Bard

COVID -19 Health Crisis Risk Management

  • Have a well-considered plan for in-person gatherings that is cautious and flexible. The deep desire to be together is understandable but inadvisable.
  • Know the risks posed by in-person gatherings.
  • How and when you gather should be based on solid local community health information.
    • Has the new strain of the virus been detected in your area?
    • What is the positivity rate for people being tested? A positivity rate below 5% has been seen as a threshold for more widespread in-person gatherings.
    • What is the case rate in your area? A case rate of over 25 new daily cases per 100,000 people is considered the highest risk level.
    • What is the capacity of health care services in your area, such as the availability of ICU beds?
  • Caution would dictate that you not consider in-person gatherings until after a possible holiday surge, so sometime after mid-January, or even better, late January.
    • Flexibility in your planning dictates that you be ready to move from in-person to virtual gatherings when the health metrics indicate.
  • Your plan for any in-person gatherings needs to include mitigation measures of mask-wearing, social distancing, adequate provisions for hand washing, and getting contact information for those gathered if someone present is diagnosed with COVID.I expect such mitigation measures will be needed for months to come.
  • Be gracious in offering options for those who continue to choose to connect with your faith community virtually. Just because you’ve opened again for in-person worship does not mean everyone will feel safe to return. As the weather warms, consider outdoor options for some gatherings. Continue to find creative ways to connect safely with each other.
  • Actively encourage vaccinations as they become available. We will increase the frequency of our in-person gatherings and relax mitigation measures as more people become immune to COVID.


What you can do right now

Health crisis risk management COVID-19 PERSONAL RESPONSE

  • Pray for all those affected by COVID-19, including the health professionals working to contain the virus and treat to those impacted.
  • Stay home.  Be faithful by taking action to protect others around you.
  • When in public, stay at least 6 feet from others, indoor or outside.
  • Wear a mask to prevent infection of others.
  • If you or a family member is sick, may have been directly exposed to the virus or have traveled to a high-alert area (currently South Korea, Iran, Italy, Japan), please follow the CDC guidelines and refrain from attending church services during the 14-day incubation period and instead worship with us online.
  • Mail a check in, or electronically share your weekly gifts with your church.
  • Soap breaks down the virus.Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. 
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes with unwashed hands. 
  • If you have COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, contact your health care provider in advance to tell them about your symptoms before arriving at a doctor’s office or hospital.  Inform your church.

How we can continue to be the church during COVID-19

  • Access the many resources on the Michigan Conference Website to support ministry during this time and move to implement these new tools.
  • Pre-tape or conduct live worship services using ZOOM, YouTube, or Facebook Live. This allows worship leaders be in their own homes but still appearing together. 
  • If your church is not able to offer online services at this time, share  online worship services at nearby UMCs.  See the list.
  • Conduct Bible studies and congregational care via telephone or ZOOM technology.
  • Continue to participate in generosity and stewardship of your local church. If your church does not have online giving, contact the office of the conference treasurer to arrange for free online giving for 2 months.
  • Register to watch the many Webinars offered on the conference website and Facebook. See the toolbox at left.
  • Organize a local church response team to monitor, plan, communicate, manage finances, and increase church hygiene.
  • Visit our Health Crisis Toolbox (see icon at top of page) and prepare your church.
  • Discuss how you can minister to and safely check on the well-being of impacted members.  Use telephone or other electronic means. Discuss how you might safely support those needing to shelter in place with food and other necessities.
  • Where you can get immediate information about COVID-19