BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Johns Hopkins Medicine and Baltimore officials are working together to help churches, mosques, temples and other religious institutions to reopen safely as the city emerges from the pandemic.

Bishop James Nelson said he is still making sure that his parishioners’ social distance when coming to church on Sundays.

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“I want to make sure that we do all of our due diligence,” said Bishop Nelson. He added that he wants to make sure every one of them feels comfortable and safe when worshiping at Destiny Christian Church in Southeast Baltimore.

The church is continuing to follow guidance from Johns Hopkins Medicine infectious disease experts
who have been working with religious leaders for months to make sure every place of worship reopens safely.

“We transitioned into what we call congregational conversations where we would hold Zoom meetings such as this with synagogues mosques churches to talk about certain infectious control policies that we recommend that along with CDC and Johns Hopkins,” said Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos, Assistant Professor at John’s Hopkins School of Medicine, Physician in Pulmonary and Critical.

Doctors have been recommending that religious leaders continue to take steps to stop the spread like physical distancing, hand hygiene, wiping down surfaces and continuing to advocate for vaccination.

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“We have a new variant. The Delta Variant that is still on the rise still trying to figure out this variant and then you have the juxtaposition of that vaccinated versus those that are not vaccinated,”

Bishop Nelson said that some of his parishioners are still concerned about covid and many are continuing to worship virtually. He hopes for a full reopening of his church soon but said he’ll continue doing everything he can to keep covid out with the help of Hopkins doctors.

“We doing great don’t get me wrong but doing great doesn’t mean we just suddenly stop what we’re doing. We continue to sleek sure that this pandemic is a thing of the past,’ said Nelson.

Bishop Nelson said the church will fully reopen on the third Sunday of the month.

Doctors at Johns Hopkins are also helping places of worship learn how to recognize and respond to covid-related mental health issues and get people connected with the help they need.

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Stetson Miller