Gov. Evers says drive-up church services OK under Safer at Home

NORTHEAST WISCONSIN (WBAY) - Health officials are asking people to avoid gathering together for Easter this year as the state works to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

It's tradition for families to get together for worship, Easter Egg hunts and brunches.

Under Gov. Tony Evers' Safer at Home order, churches and religious services are considered essential. However, all gatherings in a room or confined space must be limited to 10 people or fewer at a time. CLICK HERE to find out what the order means for you.

The governor says churches can hold services the following ways:

• Parking lots with congregants staying in cars, avoiding person-to-person contact;
• Streaming online; and
• Having small gatherings (fewer than 10 people in each room) with multiple services.

Some churches are offering virtual services. Contact your church to learn more about alternative Easter worship opportunities.

CLICK HERE for the state's guidelines on faith-based activity during the outbreak.

The City of Oshkosh is giving churches the opportunity to broadcast Easter Services through Oshkosh Media's Local Channels. The opportunity is open to all churches in the city of Oshkosh. All they have to do is record a 30-minute service and email it to Jake Timm at jtimm@ci.oshkosh.wi.us and fill out a form at www.oshkoshmedia.org

The city is asking churches to get the services to them by 2 p.m. Friday.

My Sunday Mass airs at 5:30 a.m. every Sunday on WBAY.

As for other events, Bellin Health says people should not gather with relatives and friends during Easter.

Prevea Health President and CEO Dr. Ashok Rai says gathering together for Easter could undo a lot of progress the state has made in keeping Wisconsin from a major outbreak.

"There's a lot of great solutions when it comes to virtual get-togethers these days. There is literally no excuse. And I know Easter may seem that way for us to become social gathering all of a sudden. We would have literally thrown away weeks worth of work and we will not be able to mitigate what happened yesterday [Election Day] if everybody gets together for Easter. What we need to be able to do is find a way for families to socialize, loved ones to socialize, but do so at a physical distance, preferably not in the same home. True physical distancing, true masking. Driving by, honking the horn, waving through windows. Those are all good activities for Easter. But definitely the worst activity for Easter possible is getting together for a social situation," says Dr. Rai.

The City of Appleton has also joined the chorus with a message of "Don't Risk It!"

"We know it's one of the biggest religious and family gathering weekends of the year, but we won't slow the spread of this virus if we all don't do our part," the city posted on social media.

"But chances are your gathering will include some of the most vulnerable people for this virus. You also don't know who cousin Michael has been in contact with at his essential job, or who aunt Sally has run into at the grocery store."

Spreading the disease

The coronavirus is spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes or breathes.

"These droplets can remain in the air and on surfaces for an extended period of time. When people breathe in (inhale) the droplets, or touch surfaces that have been contaminated and then touch their mouth, face, or eyes, the virus can make them sick," says the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

People infected with the virus can develop the respiratory disease named COVID-19.

COVID-19 symptoms and prevention

Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. CLICK HERE for more information on symptoms. Emergency signs include pain and pressure in the chest, confusion, trouble breathing, and bluish lips or face.

The CDC believes symptoms may appear between 2 and 14 days after contact with an infected person.

VISIT wbay.com/coronavirus for complete local, national and international coverage of the outbreak.

DHS recommends taking these steps to help stop the spread of the virus:

--Stay at home
--Limit your physical interactions with people
--Keep at least six feet apart from others
--Frequent and thorough hand washing with soap and water
--Make essential trips no more than once a week
--Covering coughs and sneezes
--Avoid touching your face

Local and national health care providers are encouraging people to wear masks in public to avoid spreading the illness to others.