This State Has Banned Churchgoers From Doing This One Common Thing

The statewide restriction is an effort to slow the rapidly spreading coronavirus, officials say.

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As the coronavirus continues to spread throughout certain regions of the country, hard-hit states are taking a variety of measures to turn things around—from reinstating lockdown orders to making masks mandatory. As one of the hotspots in the U.S., California recently took further action by putting a temporary ban on singing in churches.

On July 1, the California Department of Public Health issued a 14-page order that temporarily put a ban on singing and chanting in churches and all other houses of worship, Newsweek reports. Officials said the restriction was in response to the fact that the state has seen cases rise significantly since easing lockdown orders and that singing poses a substantial risk for transmitting the virus.

"Places of worship must therefore discontinue indoor singing and chanting activities … where there is increased likelihood for transmission from contaminated exhaled droplets," the Department of Public Health said in the order, making clear that this includes both rehearsals and religious services. "Consider practicing these activities through alternative methods (such as internet streaming) that ensure individual congregation members perform these activities separately in their own homes."

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In May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that after a church choir in Washington state rehearsed for two-and-a-half hours with one symptomatic member present, 87 percent of the choir developed COVID-19—which resulted in three hospitalizations and two deaths. "The act of singing, itself, might have contributed to transmission through emission of aerosols, which is affected by loudness of vocalization," the report stated.

When California's order was issued on July 1, the state had more than 240,000 coronavirus cases, including the 6,367 it reported on June 30, California's second highest daily total since the pandemic began. On July 8, however, the state set a new daily record, with 9,500 new cases reported, pushing its total over 280,000.

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The ban on singing was not well-received by some of California's religious residents, but it remains in place and was accompanied by additional recommendations for making houses of worship less prone to transmitting coronavirus.

The order reads: "Places of worship must take reasonable measures, including posting signage in strategic and highly-visible locations and in reservation confirmations, 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." And for other places where people are spreading coronavirus, check out These Things You May Think Are Harmless Are Spawning Awful COVID Outbreaks.

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