In response to the outbreak of the H1N1 virus, commonly known as virulent swine flu, the UCC's National Disaster ministries have prepared resources relevant to the latest strain of influenza.
The Associated Press today reported nearly 100 confirmed cases in 10 U.S. states and added a warning that the World Health Organization is close to categorizing this outbreak of swine flu as a full-scale pandemic. As government agencies ramp-up efforts to produce a vaccine, hygienic measures are currently the best means of preventing the disease's spread.
UCC church members are urged to be especially vigilant about helping children in Sunday school classes keep clean, encouraging the use of frequent hand washing and alcohol-based hand sanitizers. It is also suggested that the "passing of the peace" in worship services be a verbal greeting only.
Florence Coppola, the UCC's executive for National Disaster Ministries, says congregations can prepare for a pandemic by developing "alternative" ways of checking on one another and "identifying those in the congregation who have health issues or ongoing treatment and medical needs that will increase their vulnerability or exposure."
Congregational preparation also includes helping individual members assess their particular situation and decide how their needs would be met during a major service disruption.
National Disaster Ministries suggests the following additional resources:
- The Center for Disease Control
- The World Health Organization
- Staying Connected - a UCC guide for congregations in times of public health concerns
- Worship in Times of Public Heath Concerns: from ecumenical partner, the ELCA
- YouTube video: Cough in your sleeve