Alabama governor establishes COVID-19 task force, church leaders begin to plan


Alabama governor establishes COVID-19 task force, church leaders begin to plan

By Margaret Colson
The Alabama Baptist

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced March 6 the formation of a coronavirus (COVID-19) task force of cabinet and state agency officials as well as disease specialists. The task force held its initial discussion on the morning it was established.

The task force will discuss any developments and precautions on a routine basis and will make recommendations to the governor as necessary. The governor designated Scott Harris, state health officer for the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), to serve as chair of the task force and to lead any public announcements and directives.

“At this time, no COVID-19 cases have been identified in Alabama,” according to the ADPH website.

Updated numbers on people under investigation and confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

In a news conference on March 4, Jeanne Marrazzo, director of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) said, “We are actively monitoring the situation, and we are preparing as if cases are going to be coming at any time. We are always trying to be as prepared as possible. Right now we have no confirmed cases, but if a case is confirmed locally, we will be prepared.”

Prevent the spread

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the ADPH and CDC recommend:

  • Wash hands with soap and water.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers if handwashing is not possible.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, or cough or sneeze into your elbow.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home when sick.
  • Stay away from people who are sick.

Additionally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released a list of antimicrobial products to use to combat COVID-19. The full list can be accessed here.

Churches throughout Alabama are beginning to think through how they will respond to an outbreak of COVID-19 in their communities, and The Alabama Baptist will share more of those details as the situation develops.

What churches can do now

In a recent article, Thom Rainer, founder and CEO of Church Answers, encourages churches to be proactive in their response to COVID-19.

He suggests that congregations:

1. Focus on prayer instead of panic. Remind your congregation that God is in control.

2. Develop a communication plan.

3. Be prepared to offer digital worship services and Bible studies.

4. Encourage people to use digital giving.

5. Develop a plan to help church members and community members.

6. Consider current church practices, such as the traditional meet-and-greet, that might be harmful for spreading coronavirus or other diseases. (BP contributed)