Reduce COVID-19 Risk by Avoiding Singing or Shouting Meetings
The CDC recently dropped its warnings about restricting choirs during religious services. The original guidelines included a recommendation that religious gatherings “consider suspending or at least reducing the use of choir / musical ensembles and singing, singing or reciting together during services or other programs, as appropriate within the religious tradition.” , warning that “[t] singing could contribute to the transmission of Covid-19, possibly through aerosol release.”
However, as reported by the Washington Post, the reference to choral singing was removed, adding new wording that the guidelines were not “intended to infringe on First Amendment rights.”
Singing adds an extra layer of risk
As the CDC wrote in a report on a choral practice that took place in Washington state in March, during which 87% of participants fell ill, “Aerosol emissions from speech were correlated with vocal loudness,” which includes singing, especially over extended periods of time.
The choir practice in Washington State, attended by 61 of the 122 choir members, is a classic example of a super-spreading event, where a single person infects large numbers of others in a single event. In this case, only 53 people fell ill.
The choir performance lasted two and a half hours, with the singers sitting on chairs 6-10 inches apart. While this may be an exception in terms of length of practice, it is believed that the influence of chanting played a role in the transmission.
It is important to follow all safety measures.
During these times, religious service can be a source of comfort and fellowship. However, if you choose to attend, the recommended precautions should be followed: stay six feet away, wear a mask, wash your hands, and limit the amount of time you spend with other people.
In response to the CDC’s rejection of cautionary words about choral practice, Leah Hamner, lead author of the CDC’s report on choral practice, told NPR , “As a public health officer, I strongly recommend that religious services continue to be conducted remotely or in vehicles. and large group gatherings are not held unless strict safety measures are in place, such as physical distancing, wearing camouflage or masks, providing excellent hand hygiene tools, and refusing to attend when sick. “
As we wrote earlier, when it comes to reducing risk, it is important to consider the concept of “people, time, space and place .” Religious services are no exception. Before you decide to attend, carefully consider factors such as the number of people who will be present, how long the service will last, and whether the room layout allows for proper physical distance. Choral ensembles or singing together in a congregation increase the overall level of risk. Think over the logistics, make an informed decision and stay in maximum safety.