Coronavirus Spreads Rapidly - Are you Ready?
CEN Advisory 2.25.20
TLP-WHITE for broad public release
Coronavirus Spreads Rapidly - Are you Ready?
The Coronavirus appears to have struck 41 countries as of today. Cities are in lock down, businesses, schools, and public events are being canceled in many places worldwide. The Center for Disease Control has indicated pandemic planning is underway nationwide. The coronavirus has a very severe rate of contagion with a high death rate. According to one source the fatality rate is 9% in China. Much is still unknown. A future outbreak could be on your mainstreet without your knowledge. In locations where the virus has been reported, just a day or two prior everyone was going about their lives without any concern. Now, over a thousand U.S. residents are currently on home-quarantine. How should Christians respond?
Christians know plagues have struck the world all throughout history as depicted in Scripture. The Philistines were struck with boils when they captured the Ark of the Covenant. History records the Black Death, Spanish flu, and the yellow fever which devastated many communities. Is the coronavirus a pandemic in the making or no big deal? Experts are divided and hard evidence is illusive. Yet, given the rapid spread in parts of the world and now with such a high death rate, planning for the worst while praying for the best is prudent. The citizens of northern Italy were thinking no big deal, until they were locked down with nearly 300 confirmed infections.
Open source news report on the advancement of the Coronavirus across 37 nations, with infection rates increasing and corresponding rise in deaths.
The Centers for Disease Control has taken the step of issuing guidelines for businesses and schools to alter operations or possibly close if the emergency strikes within the United States. The President of the U.S. requested $2.5 billion in emergency funding to combat the virus to make preparations. While many of us look at the Coronavirus as something happening on the far side of the world, news reports confirm large parts of Italy and other countries are already on lockdown, businesses, schools and churches closed.
News reports from the San Francisco Chronicle indicate 8,000 people in California are now under self quarantine. Caring for 8,000 people is relatively easy but what would happen if large tracts of the United States were forced, or choose for health reasons, to self-quarantine? While documentation is still sketchy, the death toll of those infected now appears to be quite high, especially for those with other health complications.
What does the Church do to minister in and through these circumstances?
We need to be aware and informed. While we may read a tremendous amount of information on the Internet and watch newscasts some information is simply not verifiable. As Dr. Michael Ryan Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergency Program said, “All predictions are important. Most predictions are wrong. And, I think we must be careful with that.” James the brother of our Lord wrote, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5) With all of the conflicting information all of us must ask the Lord for His wisdom. Otherwise, we will be lost and unable to minister.
Christians and churches need to be prepared to minister in and through all emergencies, large and small. The Coronavirus has the potential to be a major worldwide disaster. While CEN has been monitoring the situation with federal and network partners, at this point, CEN is unable to determine whether the virus will create a worldwide altering event or be another “wake up call” for Christians to be biblically ready for such a time as this. As with all possible disasters it’s far better to be a year early, than a day late in our preparations.
There are key steps Christians should take in the current situation to lead in and through this, or other disasters with the Hope of Christ.
- Prepare yourself and your family spiritually. All wisdom and strength comes from the Lord and the Lord alone, God will be a far better counselor than any news story. ReadyChristian
- Put aside a 30 day per person supply food and other supplies so you are able to be quarantined if necessary. Use your extra supplies as an opportunity to minister to others. For a supply list: ReadyChristian
- Use careful hygiene such as washing your hands and being careful when out with others should be undertaken, just as you would to avoid the common cold. ReadyChristian
- Plan how you function within your family, business, church and community should the virus become a serious pandemic. For example those in poor health may choose to self-quarantine rather than be exposed outside. Other families may be forced to quarantine in their homes as is already happening to millions around the world. King Solomon wrote, “The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps.” (Proverbs 14:15) Develop an Emergency Operations Plan to fit this threat. ReadyChurch
Key steps Christian organizations, businesses, and schools should take now:
- Develop contingency plans for the eventuality of a possible pandemic. In the past, when a “normal” flu strain sweeps through a community, many schools may close for a few days or week at the most. However, if the worst case scenario develops with the coronavirus strain becoming widespread and extremely dangerous schools will need to consider how to move forward if closed for weeks or a month or more. Churches face the same dilemma. Will services be done on the Internet? Will regular current information be sent using all methods of communications? Can collections be made online? How will the church minister in and through these circumstances? Download CEN’s Ministry Continuity Plan ReadyCity
What are the key steps churches and schools should take?
CDC Business and School Guidance:
- Prepare for absenteeism
- Early dismissal
- Monitor those with symptoms carefully
- Cross train your staff to function with high absenteeism
- Develop alternative operational plans
“In some communities, early childhood programs and K-12 schools may be dismissed, particularly if COVID-19 worsens. Determine how you will operate if absenteeism spikes from increases in sick employees, those who stay home to care for sick family members, and those who must stay home to watch their children if dismissed from school. Businesses and other employers should prepare to institute flexible workplace and leave policies for these employees.” U.S. CDC
Be There Praying, Caring and Sharing the Hope of Christ! (I Peter 3:15)
- Pray for Christians to be aware, ready and sharing Christ in this crisis even as we see the rapid and alarming spread of the Coronavirus with many people going about their day as if nothing is happening.
- Given what we’ve learned from these circumstances, be ready to minister in and through all disasters large and small by lovingly preparing now with plans and supplies to support families, churches with the Hope of Christ.
- Share with those expressing concern or fear about the impact of the coronavirus physically and economically: “He will never leave you nor forsake you, do not be afraid, do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8
- Share with those who are fearful: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5
- Ask those expressing concern how you may pray for them and assist them to prepare. I Peter 3:15