COVID-19 and What the Faith Community Needs To Know
Our world is facing circumstances unprecedented in our lifetime. The faith community is a connection that many have sought solace in the time of uncertainty. Here are details the faith community needs to lead the efforts to keep everyone safe.
Know the Facts
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided information on their website on the symptoms, testing and stigma associated with COVID-19 (Coronavirus). This information is important as faith communities encounter persons that may be infected or concerned about contracted the virus. Also, noting and emphasizing that the disease can make anyone sick regardless of his or her race, ethnicity, demographic or social status.
Symptoms to Seek Medical Advice:
- Shortness of breath
Symptoms to Seek Immediate Medical Attention:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
Have Been in Close Contact with Person Diagnosed or a Person Who Has Been in Close Contact:
- Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room
- Tell them about your recent travel and/or your symptoms
Quarantine! If You Are Sick or Caring for Someone Who Is:
- Stay home except to get medical care and monitor your symptoms
- Stay in touch with your doctor. Call ahead before visiting your doctor
- Avoid public transportation
- Separate yourself from other people in your home, this is known as home isolation
- Limit contact with pets & animals
- Wear a facemask if you are sick or caring for others
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, throw away in lined trashcan, and wash hands for 20 seconds or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol when soap is not available.
- Clean your hands often
- Avoid sharing personal household items
- Clean all “high-touch” surfaces everyday
When To Discontinue Quarantine:
People with COVID-19 who have stayed home (home isolated) can stop home isolation under the following conditions:
If you will not have a test to determine if you are still contagious, you can leave home after these three things have happened:
- You have had no fever for at least 72 hours (that is three full days of no fever without the use medicine that reduces fevers) AND
- other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath have improved) AND
- at least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared
If you will be tested to determine if you are still contagious, you can leave home after these three things have happened:
- You no longer have a fever (without the use medicine that reduces fevers) AND
- other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath have improved) AND
- You received two negative tests in a row, 24 hours apart. Your doctor will follow CDC guidelines.
“In all cases, follow the guidance of your healthcare provider and local health department. The decision to stop home isolation should be made in consultation with your healthcare provider and state and local health departments. Local decisions depend on local circumstances.”
There are ways we all can be proactive in preventing spread of COVID-19. The faith community practicing the suggested ways of prevention allows the world to see the leadership and concern that faith communities have for all people. Many are conflicted with struggling with this being a matter of faith over fear; however, this is a demonstration of love for community. Here are ways the faith community can lead in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
- The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community
- Plan ways to limit face-to-face contact between people at your organization
- Identify space that can be used to separate sick people (if possible)
- Identify actions to take if you need to temporarily postpone or cancel events, programs, and services. Consider limiting access to your organization by non-essential visitors
- Cancel gatherings, services and events. Provide web- and mobile-based communications and services, if possible
- Clean your hands often. Wash hands for 20 seconds or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol when soap is not available.
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily
- If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection
- Clean often high-touch surfaces in public places, such as, doorknobs, elevator button, countertops, etc.
- Keep abreast of updates and share with staff and the community
- Share information through your social media accounts and website
- Stay connected to staff, members, stakeholders and the community via phone, video conferencing, email and/or writing letters
- Find ways to bring the faith community together to continue human connection and manage stress
For more information on how your church or faith organization can prepare, prevent and promote best practices addressing COVID-19, please visit the CDC website. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) – Printed Resources
March 24, 2020 is National Diabetes Alert Day. The Balm In Gilead asks you to join us as we work to send a “wake-up call” about the impacts of Diabetes on families and communities across the country. This year, it is even more imperative that we work to reduce risks associated with this disease as persons having Diabetes are more susceptible to the novel Coronavirus or COVID-19.
More than 30 million Americans have diabetes while another 84 million have prediabetes. This is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. For African Americans and other minority communities, the need to take action is even more important as these groups disproportionately being impacted.
We encourage you to find visit us on the web at https://www.balmingilead.org/sdfi/ to learn more about what The Balm is doing to combat Diabetes through culturally tailored faith-based diabetes prevention programs offered through its Southeast Diabetes Faith Initiative (SDFI) – a 6 state initiative reaching underserved communities across the southeast US by expanding access to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP). This lifestyle change program is an evidenced-based program that has been proven to cut the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes by up to 58% (71% for person ages 60 and over). Enrollment is open today for Summer/Fall classes. Sign-up for our mailing list to learn more about joining a SDFI-NDPP near you!
It is also important that we understand the risk of Diabetes. If you – or someone you love – is living with other chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure or obesity you may be at increased risk for type 2 diabetes. Take this easy and quick online Diabetes Risk Test.
THE BALM IN GILEAD, INC. ANNOUNCES 2019 NATIONAL HEALTHY CHURCHES 2020 BEST PRACTICE AWARDEES
Award Recipients will receive official recognition during the annual banquet
The Balm In Gilead, Inc. will present Best Practice Awards to nine congregational-based health ministries from across the country that are raising the bar to improve the health of African Americans within their congregations and communities.
Additionally, VillageHeartbeat, a North Carolina-based organization, will receive The Balm In Gilead’s Best Practice Award for Engaging African American Congregations in Addressing Health Disparities. Cheryl S. Emanuel, MS, CSAPC, leads VillageHeartbeat. The organization’s 2019 Life Achievement Award will be bestowed upon Geneticist Georgia M. Dunston, PhD, retired professor of human immunogenetics at Howard University and founding director of the National Human Genome Center at Howard University. All honorees will receive special recognition during the 6th Annual Healthy Churches National Conference Awards Dinner.
The Healthy Churches 2020 Conference is expected to attract more than 500 faith and public health influencers Nov. 19-22 in Charlotte, NC at the downtown Sheraton Hotel. The awards dinner, featuring Grammy Award Winning Singer and Songwriter Israel Houghton, takes place the evening of Nov. 21. More than 30 churches and organizations nationwide were nominated for The Balm In Gilead’s Best Practice award, which is designed to recognize extraordinary faith-based partnerships, health outreach and services within rural and urban African American communities.
“The Best Practice Award is the foundational essence of our work,” said Dr. Pernessa C. Seele, founder and CEO of The Balm In Gilead, Inc. “These congregations and organizations are beacons of light and hope, proactively working to bring the latest health solutions to communities they serve.
This 4-day conference is the only national forum of its kind to bridge faith and public health. The conference’s primary objective is to strengthen the skills and leadership capacity of pastors and congregation members who work within church health ministries, and auxiliaries including the kitchen/culinary teams, ministry nursing units, transportation teams, deacon and missionary groups and other outreach ministerial programs.
Congregations receiving The 2019 Best Practice Awardees are:
- Turner Memorial AME Church, Hyattsville, Md. (Dr. D.K. Kearney)
- Central Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church, Hilton Head, S.C. (Rev. Louis Johnson)
- Faith Community Baptist Church, Richmond, Va. (Rev. Dr. Patricia Gould-Champ)
- New Mount Olive Baptist Church, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. (Dr. Marcus Davidson)
- Varick Memorial AME Zion Church, New Haven, Conn. (Dr. Kelcy Steele)
- Beebe Memorial CME Cathedral, Oakland, Calif. (Dr. Charles Hames, Jr.)
- Ebenezer Baptist Church, Staunton, Va. (Dr. Michael Turner)
- Berea Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Dorchester, Mass. (Rev. Omar G. Jarvis)
- Beacon Light International Baptist Cathedral, New Orleans, La. (Dr. Darryl Brister)
Annually, the Healthy Churches 2020 conference speaker roster includes nationally-renowned faith and public health leaders. This year’s line-up includes author and philanthropist Cookie Johnson; Dr. Kafui Dzirasa, Duke University Medical Center; Bishop James Walker, Sr., The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church; Rev. Shane Scott, the historic Los Angeles-based Macedonia Baptist Church; Dr. Fatima Stanford, Harvard Medical Center; Joyce (Joy) Balls-Berry, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science; Bishop Horace E. Smith, MD, Apostolic Faith Church Chicago; Rev. Dr. Khaalida T. Forbes, Metamorphosis Enterprises; Rev. Paul Abernathy, FOCUS Pittsburgh; Rev. Dr. Renita J. Weems, Biblical Scholar, and many more.