Dear members of the faith community of Louisiana:
March 14, 2020
Many of us have been grappling with the decision of whether to hold or attend in-person worship services tomorrow.
We heard from Governor Edwards’ office this morning. With the latest update, the spread of Covid-19 appears to be far more extensive throughout Louisiana than was understood even yesterday.
Health professionals and the Governor’s office are deeply concerned about worship services creating a circumstance to help fuel the spread of this disease. This is especially dangerous because so many of our worshipers are of the age most at risk of dying from Covid-19.
Louisiana currently has the third-highest rate of Covid-19 cases in the country. That is likely to get worse, not better, as testing becomes more widespread.
The disease likely has been spreading without detection for several weeks, which means it currently is present in every parish across the state.
We urge you to consider prayerfully that, if you hold or attend a service on Sunday, there is a strong possibility that one or more of your worshipers is carrying the virus. This is a strong possibility whether or not they are sick or showing any symptoms.
Under these circumstances, in-person services are very likely to help fuel the spread of the virus.
The chart below shows us how the experience of other countries – South Korea and Italy, particularly – offer wisdom to act responsibly and faithfully as a community.
What we’ve learned from those countries is that action that feels “bold” in the moment, such as the steps Italy took, may not be enough to slow down the spread of Covid-19.
What’s required in the early phases is action may even feel drastic. South Korea took those actions and it saved thousands of lives.
Thank you for considering our thoughts on this matter.
Yours in faith,