COVID-19 Preparedness Plan

Introduction

Incarnation Lutheran Church is committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace and worship space for all our workers, congregants and visitors. To ensure we have a safe and healthy environment, Incarnation has developed a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our goal is to mitigate the potential for transmission of COVID-19 in our workplaces and communities, and that requires full cooperation among our workers, congregants and visitors. We ask everyone to be open to new ways of doing things so that through this cooperative effort can we establish and maintain the safety and health of us all.

Incarnation’s COVID-19 Preparedness Plan establishes and explains our policies, practices and conditions that we will implement to meet the guidance that is based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) guidelines. In general, our policy to minimize the risk of community of the COVID-19 virus includes the following:

  • Maintain social distancing of 6 feet between individuals from difference households.
  • Guiding the flow of individuals into and out of worship and study spaces to minimize congestion and crowding.
  • Use of face masks to slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • Frequent cleaning of rooms and surfaces.

As more is learned about COVID-19, our response and the Preparedness Plan will be updated.

The Basics

Incarnation will begin opening at a very slow pace. We will begin Sunday worship services on September 20 at 8:45 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Whenever the building is open, you will be expected to wear a face mask and follow directions for flow of traffic. All staff will be wearing masks and will be working a staggered work week. You can come into the Incarnation Office but may not visit an individual in their office. Please call ahead if you would like to visit with someone. The planned office hours will be posted as soon as they are determined. It is likely that the offices will be open from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., Monday – Thursday.

If you plan on using space in the church for a small group, event or meeting:

  • Space must be reserved for all events through Amy Martell, Office Manager.
  • Certain events will require registration through our online service Realm. The office staff can also assist individuals. This electronic sign up will be “first come, first served” until the maximum number of attendees has been reached. Before the event, a check-in will be done.
  • All individuals will provide their name and either an email address or phone number as a method of contact if any individuals in the group later become COVID-positive.
  • Individuals can bring their own physical materials such as Bibles, study guides, etc., provided they take these items with them when they leave.
  • When inside the building, all guidelines must be followed by the individuals including the use of facemasks and social distancing of 6 feet between individuals or household groups. EXAMPLE: A group of 3 individuals that live together would need to stay 6 feet from other groups or individuals, but that group of 3 could sit/stand together.
  • As members of the Incarnation community, it is our obligation if we turn positive for COVID-19, to first call the Minnesota COVID-19 Hotline at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903. Then contact the office staff at Incarnation. Other attendees who may have been exposed to the virus will be informed as part of contact tracing. This is one of that things that we can do to slow down how quickly this virus spreads.

Q&A

When should you not enter the building?

If you meet any of the following conditions, we respectfully ask you not to enter the building. Those with:

  • Temperature greater than 100.4 ºF immediately prior to entering the building.
    symptoms of COVID-19. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, headache, muscle pain, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell. Other less common symptoms include gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • Have a current recommendation to quarantine by a health care provider/entity.
  • Have significant exposure to COVID-19.
  • Have a household member experiencing symptoms compatible with COVID-19.

Additionally, if you are a person who may be at higher risk for severe illness, you are encouraged to stay home.

What will worship look like?

You will need to register for worship the week prior to when you will attend. When you arrive, you will be greeted and checked in. An usher will take you to an appropriate location. There will be no bulletin or congregational singing, but plenty of prayer and praise.

What can you expect at Incarnation?

The bathrooms will be open. The doors will be propped open and 2 people are allowed in at a time. The water fountains have been shut off, but if you need water in an emergency, it will be available at the welcome center.

What if I can’t wear a mask?

People exempted from the face covering requirement: Children under age 2 years must not wear face coverings. Children between the ages of 2 and 5 years old are not required to wear face coverings, but are encouraged to wear a face covering when in public if they can do so reliably in compliance with CDC guidance on How to Wear Cloth Face Coverings (i.e., without frequently touching or removing the face covering). People who have medical or other health conditions, disabilities or mental health, developmental, or behavioral needs that make it difficult to tolerate wearing a face covering. Any person who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, sleeping, incapacitated, or is otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance. People at their workplace when wearing a face covering would create a safety hazard to the person or others as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines. Alternatives to masks such as clear face shields may be considered for those with health conditions or situations where wearing a mask is problematic. Face shields may also be used as an alternative to face coverings when specifically permitted in the applicable Industry

What about pastoral tasks such as Baptisms, weddings and funerals?

These events can happen with the all of the guidelines followed, such as size of group, use of masks, etc.

 

What’s happening with Children, Youth & Family?

ILC Kids (Elementary School Ministry)
MSM (Middle School Ministry)
HSM (High School Ministry)

Other Information

Room Capacities
Volunteer Guidelines
Definitions
COVID-19 Information

Room Capacities

These room capacities are estimated using social distancing of 6 feet between households.

The Sanctuary

Social distancing capacity is approximately 97 individuals in the pews and 10 in the choir loft. Some of the pew sections could hold households of 3 and 4 without having to adjust the seating of others. Normal max capacity is 684.

Incarnation Hall

Social distancing capacity is approximately 150 chairs at 6 feet apart. Normal max capacity is 766 chairs or 357 individuals at tables.

Grace Hall

Social distancing capacity is approximately 143 chairs at 6 feet apart. Normal max capacity is 450 chairs or 210 individuals at tables.

Volunteer Guidelines

Volunteer General Guidance

  • The following guidance applies to all volunteers working on behalf of Incarnation irrespective of the location of the volunteer activity.
  • Sign-ups will be available by using online sign up via the church website, and the Incarnation Office can also assist individuals.
  • All volunteer attendance is documented by the “leader” for all incarnation sponsored volunteer activities.

Volunteer Screening

  • All volunteers must screen themselves prior to participating in the activity per Minnesota Department of Health (MDH)’s Visitor and Employee Health Screening Checklist.
  • Volunteers meeting the following criteria are required to stay home.
  • Those with positive screening at home prior to leaving home, positive screening includes:
    • Temperature greater than 100.4 ºF.
    • Positive COVID-19 self-screening questionnaire.

NOTE: These individuals are strongly encouraged to get tested for COVID-19.

  • Those who test positive for COVID-19.
    • Should quarantine per health department protocol.
    • Should not participate in volunteer activity until quarantine lapses per health department guidance.
    • Those who have been in close contact with a household member who tested positive for COVID-19.

NOTE: These individuals are strongly encouraged to get tested for COVID-19.

  • Any volunteer under a quarantine recommendations per health department guidance.
  • All “at risk” volunteers are strongly encouraged to consider activities that minimize or eliminate contact with other individuals. Guidelines to identify who is at higher health risk if exposed to COVID-19 are listed in the appendix of this document. Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, headache, muscle pain, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell. Other less common symptoms include gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

General Interpersonal Interactions While Participating in Volunteer Activity

At Incarnation

  • All volunteers are to wear masks while in the building. Masks will be available for volunteers that do not have one. Exceptions to wearing a mask are the following:
    • If medically contraindicated
    • If individual is in a private workspace, alone, with door closed
    • If the individual, such as a pastor, is preaching, singing, etc. as part of either a live or recorded service. In these instances, they will be either 6 or 12 feet from others, depending on their activity.
  • Individuals should maintain social distancing
  • Use flexible scheduling to reduce number of volunteers/staff in the same place at the same time: Staggered shifts and breaks, extend hours
  • Workstations must be at least 6 feet apart
  • Rooms will be marked with the capacity for each space
  • Limit the number of people in restrooms to 2 at a time
  • Ensure physical distancing at all times, including at workstations, break rooms, and shared projects requiring people to work together. Adapt the physical space, event preparation, etc. to maintain at least 6-foot distance for any worker interaction.
    • Continuous evaluation of traffic patterns and “choke points” to reduce crowding at entrances, in hallways, waiting areas, break areas, common areas, etc., and take corrective action as appropriate.
    • Volunteers must wash/sanitize their hands minimally upon entering the building and every 2 hours thereafter.
      • Hand-sanitizer should be readily available throughout the staff work area
      • Tissues for proper cough/sneeze etiquette and no-touch disposal bins should be readily available through-out the staff work area.
    • Food should not be shared communally.
    • Signage will include the following:
      • “Hand-washing” and “cover your cough” signs.
    • Other (to be determined).

Volunteers Interacting with the Public Outside of Incarnation Proper

  • Volunteers should maintain social distancing, at least 6 feet apart, while interacting with the public
    • Volunteers should wear masks while interacting with the public.
  • If volunteer feels that they may have been exposed while interacting, it is recommended that they self-quarantine and contact their “leader” so that contact tracing can be started.

NOTE: These individuals are strongly encouraged to get tested for COVID-19.

Definitions

Clinically diagnosed: Doctors or other health care providers can decide that someone has the disease without testing for it. They do this by seeing if someone has signs of the disease. They also look at how likely it is for the person to have the disease.

Cluster: A grouping of disease cases in a geographic area during a set time period.

Close contact: Spending time less than 6 feet from someone who has COVID-19 disease. The closer and longer you are with someone who has the disease, the greater chance you have of getting it. It can matter if the person is coughing when you are close. People can have the disease without having signs of being sick. Close contact can mean being very near to people you live with who are infected; standing next to someone on a factory line who is infected; or eating lunch next to an infected co-worker. Contact is less when passing someone infected in a hallway at work.

Contact tracing: A disease control measure. Public health workers known as contact tracers work with infected people to identify anyone they had close contact with while they were contagious. The exposed contacts are then informed that they might be carrying the coronavirus and advised to stay home for 14 days while monitoring themselves for symptoms.

Coronavirus: A type of virus that looks like a corona (crown) when viewed under a microscope. There are many different coronaviruses. Most cause mild respiratory infections like the common cold, but others can cause serious illness. The strain of coronavirus that is causing the COVID-19 pandemic is called SARS-CoV-2.

COVID-19: Stands for coronavirus disease-19. COVID-19 is the name of the infection caused by the novel (new) strain of highly contagious coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that was first identified in late 2019.

Droplet: A tiny moist particle that is released when you cough or sneeze. You may contract the coronavirus if you’re close to someone who is carrying it and your mouth, nose, or eyes come into contact with droplets they have released.

Exposed: This means coming in contact with the virus. The virus is thought to spread when someone who is infected coughs, sneezes, or exhales. This is why people should stay at least 6 feet from each other. The virus can also get on surfaces and objects that other people then touch. It is important to wash your hands before you touch your mouth, nose, face, or eyes.

Face Mask: A face mask is a covering of the nose and mouth that is used as an additional step to slow the spread of COVID-19 in addition to everyday preventative actions and social distancing in public settings. Face coverings, often called masks, can help stop your germs from infecting others.

Types of Face Coverings: Types of face coverings can include a paper or disposable mask, a cloth mask, a neck gaiter, a scarf, a bandanna, or a religious face covering. A face covering must cover the nose and mouth completely. The covering should not be overly tight or restrictive and should feel comfortable to wear. Any mask that incorporates a valve that is designed to facilitate easy exhaling, mesh masks, or masks with openings, holes, visible gaps in the design or material, or vents are not sufficient face coverings because they allow droplets to be released from the mask. A face covering is not a substitute for social distancing, but it is especially important in situations when maintaining at least a 6-foot distance from other individuals who are not members of the same household is not possible. It is not known whether face shields (a clear plastic barrier that covers the face) provide the same source control for droplets as face masks, but they may be an option in situations where wearing a face mask is problematic. For optimal protection, the shield should extend below the chin and to the ears, and there should be no exposed gap between the forehead and the shield’s headpiece. Although medical-grade masks (e.g., surgical face masks, N95 respirators) are sufficient face coverings, members of the public who do not work in health care or an occupation that requires medical-grade protective equipment (e.g., certain construction professions) are discouraged from wearing them as they should be reserved for those workers.

High risk: Some people may get sicker than others because of their age and health. Ask your doctor or other health care provider if you have high risk for getting sicker from the disease. People with high risk may be older, people who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility, and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions. Underlying medical conditions of particular concern include chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma, serious heart conditions, conditions causing a person to be immunocompromised, severe obesity, diabetes, chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis, and liver disease.

Households: The people living in one apartment, townhome, or house. If your household includes one or more vulnerable individuals then all family members should act as if they, themselves, are at higher risk.

Isolation: When someone with signs of the disease stays in one place away from others. The person cannot give the disease to someone else during the time the person stays away from others. People can give the disease to each other before they show signs of being sick. People who stay away from others after they feel sick may already have given the disease to others.

Pandemic: A lot of people all over the world get sick fast from the same disease. A new virus that is easy for people to give to each other can cause a pandemic.

Quarantine: The practice of staying home and away from others for 14 days after you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 to see if you get symptoms and avoid spreading the virus if you are in fact carrying it.

Self-isolation: Stricter than quarantine, self-isolation refers to staying in a contained area — perhaps a single room in your home if you don’t live alone — because you have COVID-19 and are trying to avoid infecting others.

Social distancing: The practice of keeping extra space between 2 people — 6 feet is the minimum recommended amount — to prevent spreading the virus. Canceling large gatherings, working at home instead of in an office, and switching from in-person school to remote learning are also parts of social distancing.

This list is not exhaustive. Please visit cdc.gov for more complete lists.

COVID-19 Information

COVID-19 Disease

  • COVID-19 is an infectious disease.
  • The disease is caused by a coronavirus not found in people before.
  • It causes viral respiratory illness.
  • We are still learning about the new virus. We do not know yet:
    • How sick it may make different people.
    • How well it passes between people.
    • Other features the new coronavirus may have.
    • We will share more information when we have it.

How It Spreads

  • People can spread the COVID-19 disease to each other.
  • The disease is thought to spread by nose and mouth droplets when someone who is infected coughs, sneezes or exhales.
  • The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people nearby. It may be possible for people to breathe the droplets into their lungs. It is important to stay 6 feet away from other people in public. At home, someone who is sick should stay alone, in one room, as much as possible.
  • Droplets can land on surfaces and objects that other people then touch. It is important to wash your hands before you touch your mouth, nose, face or eyes. Clean surfaces that are touched often. Clean surfaces often if someone in the house is sick.
  • Infected people may be able to spread the disease before they have symptoms or feel sick.

Severity

  • Many people with COVID-19 have mild illness. However, anyone can become severely ill from this virus.
  • Based on current information and experience, older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions have a greater risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. Ask your health care provider if you have greater risk of getting sicker.
  • People at higher risk may be:
    • Age 65 and older.
    • Living in a nursing home or long-term care facility.
    • Any age if they have underlying health conditions, especially if the conditions are not well controlled:
      • Chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma.
      • Serious heart conditions.
      • Severe obesity with body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher.
      • Chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis.
      • Liver disease.
      • Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications.
    • For more information, see:

Community and Faith-based Organizations

  • Know where to find local information on COVID-19 and local trends of COVID-19 cases.
  • Identify safe ways to serve those that are at high risk or vulnerable (outreach, assistance, etc.).
  • Review, update, or develop emergency plans for the organization, with special consideration for people at increased risk of severe illness.
  • Encourage personal protective measures among organization/members and staff (e.g., stay home when sick, handwashing, respiratory etiquette).
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces at organization gathering points daily.
  • Ensure hand hygiene supplies are readily available in buildings.

Higher-risk Individuals and COVID-19 Information

COVID-19 is a new disease and there is limited information regarding risk factors for severe disease. Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Based on what we know now, those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are:

  • People 65 years and older
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility

People of all ages with underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, including:

  • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
  • People who have serious heart conditions
  • People who are immunocompromised
    • Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications
  • People with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher)
  • People with diabetes
  • People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
  • People with liver disease