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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

Mid-South health & community leaders urge faithful to stay home during religious holidays

Doctors are warning about the spread of COVID-19 from possible religious holiday services.

With several religious holidays fast approaching, community leaders are expanding Safer-at-Home orders already in place because of the Coronavirus outbreak.

Health officials also warn against gathering for traditional holiday celebrations this year for fear of spreading the illness.

Southern people of faith tend to be very traditional in worship - with weekly bible study, prayer gatherings, temple, and mass. We're approaching the Christian Easter weekend and Passover, two big religious holidays that bring families together year after year.

But this year staying apart from loved ones could keep your family together.

Dr. Stephen Threlkeld of Baptist Hospital says this is not the time for grandchildren to visit with grandparents. Children could carry the virus to older people with weaker immune systems.

Instead, do a video conference call with family to limit contact, and check your church or temple website for times for live-streamed worship services over computer or phone.

Dr. Thelkeld echoed the sentiment of the Mayors’ Task COVID-19 Task Force, a joint effort of Shelby County Cities, in urging continued safer-at-home and social distancing practices as ordered statewide by Governor Bill Lee.

"We have to be consistent in our efforts to stay home, to stay apart, to do the small things that save lives, and decrease the long-term risks in our state," said Lee.

Following those orders could mean the difference in how soon we come out of this health crisis with fewer sick people and deaths. Choices made this Easter could change families for years to come.

Code enforcement received 207 complaints of businesses, including churches and people violating the order. Of those, 27 violations were issued - churches are included.

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RELATED: Mental health, isolation and youth homelessness are concerns for LGBTQ community during pandemic

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Coronavirus in Context: 

The symptoms of coronavirus are similar to the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Most healthy people will have mild symptoms. A study of more than 72,000 patients by the Centers for Disease Control in China showed 80-percent of the cases there were mild.

But infections can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, according to the World Health Organization. Older people with underlying health conditions are most at risk.

The CDC believes symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after being exposed.

Lower your risk

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. 
  • If you are 60 or over and have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or respiratory illnesses like asthma or COPD, the World Health Organization advises you to try to avoid crowds or places where you might interact with people who are sick.