With new cases being diagnosed each day, the question of “How concerned should I be about Coronavirus?” is being asked by many. The first cases of Coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, were diagnosed in China in December 2019. Since then, the illness with pneumonia-type symptoms has spread to 37 nations to-date, including countries where United Methodists reside and attend church. While places where people gather in close proximity, such as worship services, may be vulnerable, there are simple steps to take to limit risks, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Above all, anyone feeling unwell should stay home and seek medical care. Other tips include:

Wash your hands frequently. Use soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Maintain social distancing. Keep 3 feet or 1 meter between yourself and anyone who is sneezing and coughing. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Viruses can live on surfaces, where your hands may touch. Once on your hands, the virus may enter your body. Practice respiratory hygiene. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Dispose of used tissue immediately. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early. Call ahead for an appointment to limit your exposure to others. Stay informed and follow the advice given by your healthcare provider. Stay up-to-date on Coronavirus by checking reliable sources, such as the WHONational Institutes of HealthCenters for Disease ControlGlobal Health Tracker, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Oak Park Health Department. Precautionary steps are being followed in the First U.M. Church building in an attempt to prevent transmission of diseases including the coronavirus (COVID-19). We have been in communication with the Oak Park Health Department and are following their advice. Posters from the CDC instructing in best handwashing practices are being posted near all hand-washing sinks. Pump bottles of hand sanitizers are available in our large meeting areas (although hand washing is still the best defense). Nitrile gloves will continue to be available for all staff and volunteers when cooking or cleaning in the building. Face masks are not recommended unless used by a person who is ill and so they will not be supplied in the building, (instead, folks who are ill are encouraged to stay home until they are better). Door handles and other surfaces frequently touched by hands are being wiped down each day. We are working with Housing Forward to implement best practices within our Shelter Site. Children’s Chapel will institute hand washing before sharing of educational materials and art supplies. Pastor Katherine will be instructing the Congregation on any related changes within the Worship Services. Please see the attached communication from the Oak Park Health Department: "The Oak Park Department of Public Health is providing the following information to help faith-based organizations better understand how to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19 (coronavirus).   COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) virus, and public health officials are learning more about it every day. There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19. At this point, the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes it. Stopping transmission (spread) of the virus through everyday practices is the best way to keep people healthy. More information on COVID-19 is available below.

COVID-19: Guidance for Community- and Faith-based Organizations

Centers for Disease Control: About Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Illinois Department of Public Health: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Illinois Department of Public Health: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): Frequently asked Questions The Illinois Department of Public Health has set-up a 24 hour COVID-19 hotline, for more information contact 1-800-889-3931, email  The Village has an alert system to notify residents or businesses when emergency situations occur. To sign up, just go to, click on the green Sign Up for Alerts button and follow the instructions. Anyone who would like to sign up, but lacks access to a computer can call 708.358.5489 to be added to the voice message alert list. The Village distributes messages only when deemed important, such as alerts about severe weather, snow emergency parking, and mosquito spraying. For more information, email"