Recent surge in Covid cases prompts churches to reinstate pandemic safety protocols

Coronavirus

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — As the number of Covid cases in Louisiana surge, faith leaders are once again taking safety precautions in their places of worship.

Outside Trinity A.M.E. Church in Gonzales, a sign sits in front of the door alerting worshipers of guidelines in place.

“Masks are required, social distancing is required, signing in is required, taking temperatures,” said Trinity A.M.E. Pastor Rev. Ritney A. Castine.

Last week, the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) announced they are recommending anyone over the age of two, whether they are vaccinated or not, to wear a mask.

St. John United Methodist in Baton Rouge pastor Lane Cotton Winn said they are following LDH’s recommendation and applying it to their worship services.

“It’s better in our minds to really encourage everyone to wear masks right now as a recommendation, it’s not a mandate,” said Winn.

LDH reported 106 Covid outbreaks at religious services with 547 cases across the state.

Castine said it’s that very reason guidelines have been in place since people were allowed back into his church.

“There is no contact greeting which is a big thing clearly in the church, right? We love to shake hands, we love to hug, unfortunately at this time that’s not required,” said Castine.

He said signs are posted to enforce the rules in an effort to keep his congregation safe.

“Safety is the name of the game and having those protocols in place has allowed for us to gain a lot of ground against Covid-19,” said Castine.

Now that churches have streaming capabilities, they’re hoping these precautions help them keep that and in-person worship.

“This small step of recommending mask is a way for us to love our neighbor,” said Winn.

“I fear without them, we will lose lives, lose progress we made,” said Castine.

Both pastors said they will monitor LDH’s data and makes changes as they see fit.

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