There is new research that shows individuals can transmit SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, to others from 1-3 days before the onset of symptoms. Transmission may occur through normal talking and breathing.

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The following message was sent out late Friday morning to local church leaders from Dr. Karen Chapman, director of the Department of Health – Okaloosa. Many churches have already moved services on-line, but attending religious services, with appropriate social distancing measures, is allowed in the "safer at home" order issued Thursday by Governor Ron DeSantis.


Dear Faith-Based Partners,


With the Governor’s Executive Order of Safer at Home, I am encouraging all of our faith-based partners to continue to practice social distancing and practice your faith together through streaming services. Many of you are doing that now. While religious organizations are exempt from the Safer at Home, as your public health official, I strongly encourage you to not bring together congregations during the Safer at Home period of April 2-30.


During March we learned more about this virus. We found that US adults 20-54 years make up about 40% of persons needing to be hospitalized. This is generally unheard of for respiratory diseases we are familiar with such as influenza. We also know from a recent study that screening nursing home residents for COVID-19 symptoms, once there is COVID-19 infection diagnosed in the facility, will miss nearly half of the residents who have COVID-19.


CORONAVIRUS BY COUNTY/CITY: Statewide cases at 9,585 - Shalimar, PCB and Franklin see more cases


There is new research that shows individuals can transmit SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, to others from 1-3 days before the onset of symptoms. Transmission may occur through normal talking and breathing. Maintaining 6-feet between people in critical. Transmission is also enhanced when people sing. Tragically, a choir at Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church in Washington state held a choir practice on March 10 and, at the time, was in full compliance with social distancing requirements in their state. No one who participated in the practice was sick on March 10. Of the 60 people who attended the chorale rehearsal, 45 people became ill after the practice. Twenty-eight (28) are confirmed cases of COVID-19 and two people in the choir have died from COVID-19. The chorale shared its story "so that it might personalize this virus for others. Our hope is to encourage everyone to stay home and stay safe."


As your consider your services for this holy season, please encourage your congregation to maintain their social distancing practices and join together in celebration through streaming or other alternative means.


Thank you,


Dr. Chapman


Karen A. Chapman, MD, MPH


Director


Florida Department of Health in Okaloosa County


Medical Director