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California bans singing in church

California has banned singing in places of worship in the latest COVID-19 pandemic-related restriction. California’s Department of Health issued an order Wednesday that temporarily prohibits worshipers from singing and chanting in a church, synagogue, or mosque.

“Even with adherence to physical distancing, convening in a congregational setting of multiple different households to practice a personal faith carries a relatively higher risk for widespread transmission of the COVID-19 virus, and may result in increased rates of infection, hospitalization, and death, especially among more vulnerable populations,” the order states.

“In particular, activities such as singing and chanting negate the risk-reduction achieved through six feet of physical distancing,” the order adds. “Places of worship must therefore discontinue singing and chanting activities and limit indoor attendance to 25% of building capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower.”

“Discontinue singing (in rehearsals, services, etc.), chanting, and other practices and performances where there is increased likelihood for transmission from contaminated exhaled droplets,” the order reads.

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The order suggests that places of worship encourage congregation members to participate in singing activities that are held over the internet instead of in-person.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that shouting or singing can easily spread coronavirus. The CDC found that a 2.5-hour choir practice in Washington attended by 61 persons evolved into a superspreader event because of people singing. The CDC notes that 32 people at the March 17 choir practice caught coronavirus, and there were 20 probable secondary COVID-19 cases. Three people were hospitalized.

The order also instructs places of worship to stop offering self-service food and beverages and to not hold potluck dinners or any family-style eating events.

California has seen a 20% spike in COVID-19 cases over the past week. On Thursday, the Golden State set a new daily coronavirus case record with 9,352 confirmed COVID-19 cases. California has nearly 250,000 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, trailing only New York, which has over 420,000 cases.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom reversed course with the state’s reopening plan this week when he shut down bars, wineries, museums, movie theaters, and inside restaurant dining in 19 counties for three weeks.

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