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Coronavirus: What to know, how to help

The world's population has been overwhelmed with the coronavirus and its related disease, COVID-19.
The world's population has been overwhelmed with the coronavirus and its related disease, COVID-19.

Global pandemic.

When United Methodists around the globe ushered in the year 2020, few would have predicted what we faced. Six months in, the world's population has been overwhelmed with the coronavirus and its related disease, COVID-19. Amid global governments making unprecedented decisions, United Methodists are living in the reality of worshiping, not inside familiar buildings, but through a variety of streaming technologies, including Facebook Live, Zoom and YouTube. Find where to worship online. As some churches cautiously resume in-person worship, those congregations face new protocols, all meant to keep one another safe. Read more about what to expect as churches return to their physical spaces.

Through it all, there remain more questions than answers, including the question, "When will this end?" However, some information remains steadfast, including recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO). Washing hands and social distancing top the list of steps for protecting yourself and others from the spread of COVID-19. Above all, anyone feeling unwell should stay home and seek medical care. 

Other tips include:

  1. Avoid going to crowded places.
  2. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Viruses can live on surfaces, where your hands may touch. Once on your hands, the virus may enter your body.
  3. Follow good respiratory hygiene. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Dispose of used tissue immediately. 
  4. Stay home and self-isolate, even with minor symptoms. If you need to leave the house, wear a mask.
  5. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early. Call ahead for an appointment to limit your exposure to others.
  6. Stay informed and follow advice given by your healthcare provider. Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus by checking reliable sources, such as the WHO, National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control, and Global Health Tracker.

Staying healthy is in our DNA

Discussing health in the church dates back to John Wesley, who wrote extensively about staying physically healthy, as well as spiritually healthy. Bishop Elaine Stanovsky, in a recent blog post, reminds United Methodists that holding spiritual and social holiness together is a “mark of Methodist distinction.”

Additionally, she writes, “Part of our Wesleyan heritage as United Methodists is caring for one another, which means caring enough to prevent the spread of a terrible illness.”  

The closing of physical church doors has encouraged us to be creative in how we do church, including using electronic media to share worship and Bible study, showing care for one another through phone calls and social media, and continuing to support congregations by giving online or by mail. 

How to help

The United Methodist Church, through UMCOR, has been helping with the crisis in China since early February when the United Methodist agency issued an emergency grant to an organization working to limit the spread of coronavirus in China. Since that time, UMCOR's work has extended across the connection, including providing grants to conferences and districts to help their  communities.

Funding for all continued assistance is being provided through UMCOR’s Global Health fund and the new COVID-19 Response Fund. Learn more, including how to give to Advance #3022612, at COVID-19 Response Fund. To date, more than $1.5 million has been donated to the COVID-19 Response Fund.

Information compiled from various sources by United Methodist Communications.

For information, resources and stories of inspiration related to the coronavirus and United Methodist Church members, visit this page.

This content was updated on July 13, 2020, from an article originally published on February 28, 2020.