California has temporarily banned singing and chanting in places of worship in an effort to curb a rapidly worsening pandemic.
On Wednesday, California’s Department of Public Health announced:
“Practices and performances present an increased likelihood for transmission of Covid-19 through contaminated exhaled droplets and should occur through alternative methods like internet streaming.”
The state has had more than 24,000 Covid-19 cases. On Tuesday, it announced 6,367 new cases, the second-highest total for the state since the pandemic began. This lead Gov. Gavin Newsom to tighten restrictions.
According to state data, coronavirus patients make up for about 30% of all hospitalizations.
Meanwhile, singing at worship services has proven to be one way to spread a virus based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The agency studied how the coronavirus spread from one member to 87% of the singers at a Washington choir practice.
“The act of singing, itself, might have contributed to the transmission through the emission of aerosols, which is affected by the loudness of vocalization,” said in the report.
While the California Department of Public Health strongly recommends places of worship should continue to facilitate remotely, in-person services are currently allowed in California if proper guidelines are followed.
Among the existing order, all places of worship are required to limit their attendance to 25% of building capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees.
“Places of worship must take reasonable measures to remind congregants and visitors that they must use face coverings and practice physical distancing and should frequently wash their hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, use hand sanitizer, and not touch their face,” the order says.
Offering plates and items alike that move between people at places of worship have also been temporarily banned.