Air exchange capacity vitally important if considering return to in-person worship
During the synod’s May 21st Zoom Webinar, presenter Dr. Curt Passafume recommended that, if returning to in-person services, worshippers should refrain from singing. The recommendation is due to the fact that singing significantly increases both the quantity of COVID-19 virus expelled from the lungs and the distance it is spread, thereby increasing the risk of spreading the disease. Even solos and duets present risks but, if being considered, vocalists should be at least 18 feet away from everyone else. The same 18-foot rule applies to preachers or other worship leaders who may speak more forcibly and, as with singing, increase the quantity of virus expelled and the distance it is spread.
Dr. Passafume also explained that air exchange capacity in the gathering space is a vitally important factor to know because it affects the spread of the virus and the length of time it remains in the space. Subsequently, air exchange has a significant bearing on the effects of singing or other activity in a room. Low air exchange increases the spread and the duration of time the virus is present. Moving fresh air through the space will remove varying amounts of COVID-19 aerosols, reducing – albeit not eliminating – the risk. Consequently, checking with your HVAC company and doing all that is possible to increase air exchange is vitally important for any plan to return to in-person worship.
We recently were made aware of an NHK news report video about How Micro Droplets are Spread. This 5-minute video offers a good review of how COVID-19 spreads, helps in understanding and visualizing air exchange issues, and demonstrates the importance of contacting your HVAC company to determine how to increase air exchange to the maximum in order to decrease risk to the minimum possible. It is offered as an additional resource to use when making a plan about a return to in-person worship.