“Don’t Tap Your Neighbor:” Black Faith Leaders Respond to Coronavirus Crisis

Aldon Thomas Stiles | California Black Media  

Many faith-based organizations are encouraging their members to follow public health guidelines to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

As COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus disease, sweeps the nation, many institutions that rely on groups meeting in large numbers have been forced to consider alternatives.

In his executive order issued last week, Gov. Newsom issued guidance that prohibits more than 250 people from gathering in a common space. 

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti also issued an executive order on March 16 that closed establishments such as bars, restaurants and entertainment venues in the “City of Angels.”

However, the order did not specify worship centers. 

Leaders of some faith-based communities remain confident that they will continue servicing the needs of their parishioners during this current crisis.

“The doors to the church are always open — even in light of the coronavirus disease. Therefore, the doors of our church will remain open,” Pastor Mary S. Minor stated in a letter to the members of Brookins-Kirkland Community AME Church. “We will practice every recommended precaution offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” 

Presiding Bishop and Chief Apostle Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. of the Church of God in Christ, Inc. stated that along with prayer, the Church of God in Christ will comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines as well, but will not suspend services.

“Additionally, when assembled for church services or group gatherings, please refrain from asking congregants to shake hands with or hug their neighbor,” Blake said. “We are asking each of our more than 10,000 congregations to aggressively monitor the epidemic as it develops and take all necessary and recommended measures provided by the CDC.”

Rev. Shane Harris, founder of the People’s Alliance for Justice, announced that his organization launched a “task force” consisting of “a network of a hundred clergy of mid-range congregations from across the United States to address the virus and its spread and to provide a faith-based network to address the concerns among public health agencies.”

With 3,000 positive Coronavirus cases nationwide and 335 positive cases in California, these precautions have steadily become more commonplace. 

Stop Evictions and Foreclosures: New Bill Responds to Coronavirus Crisis

By Aldon Thomas Stiles | California Black Media 

Following the example of the Italian government, California lawmakers are pushing for legislation that would provide rental relief and order a temporary suspension of mortgage payments for residents affected by COVID-19, or the Coronavirus disease.

The bill, being championed by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) and Sen. Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco), is expected to be introduced soon. Ting says the legislation is designed to keep those financially inconvenienced by COVID-19 in their homes until the public health crisis subsides.

“Before the coronavirus, homelessness was the thing people were talking about. The last thing we want is the virus to exacerbate the problem,” Ting said.

As of Sunday, there were about 3,000 positive COVID-19 cases nationwide with 335 of those in California.

On March 15, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued an executive order closing bars, restaurants, pubs, theaters and other entertainment venues across California’s largest and most populous city. 

A temporary eviction ban might encourage employees to heed the advice of public health officials and stay home, according to Ting.

Two days before on March 13, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin reached agreement on an emergency economic stimulus package to address the Coronavirus crisis, providing free testing and emergency sick leave for employees under specific conditions. 

“The Families First Coronavirus Response Act is focused directly on providing support for America’s families who must be our first priority,” Pelosi said. “To put families first, our legislation secures two weeks of paid sick leave and family and medical leave for those affected by the virus.”

However, the sick leave portion of the bill does not cover all employees for the duration of the outbreak.

According to Ting, his proposed bill is similar to one passed in San Jose, which also offers financial aid for small businesses. Ting’s bill will also extend to renters.

Other California cities, including Hayward, Oakland, Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Diego are gearing up to adopt similar policies for their residents. 

California health officials urge citizens to practice social distancing and reduced travel to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: