Arkansas has implemented a new regulation that requires church attendees to wear face masks at all times during in-person services.
According to The Christian Post, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the change at a press conference on Tuesday. Hutchinson said attendees who cannot wear masks due to medical reasons are exempt from the policy.
“The number of cases we’ve seen across Arkansas that come from places of worship has increased,” stated Hutchinson, adding that doesn’t mean that worshipers “aren’t careful.”
“It just simply means that when you have congregants together, there is a risk associated with it. The vast majority of our places of worship are taking precautions and doing a very good job. But there is that risk.”
In a post on the Department of Health’s website, the department said, “Masks are the biggest factor that contributes to safe worship.”
The Arkansas Department of Health reported 945 new coronavirus cases on Monday. Statewide, the total of active cases is 12,488. Nearly 800 people are hospitalized in the state.
According to a study released in September from the journal, Indoor Air, singing without a face mask can increase the likelihood of spreading COVID-19 in tiny airborne particles.
Researchers studied one case in which one person with mild coronavirus symptoms attended a 2.5-hours-long choir performance and infected 50 people who later tested positive. Two died from complications related to the coronavirus infection.
"This study documents in great detail that the only plausible explanation for this super-spreading event was transmission by aerosols," said lead author Shelly Miller of the University of Colorado Boulder.
"Shared air is important because you can be inhaling what someone else exhaled even if they are far away from you."
In March, before local restrictions on masks were implemented, 40 members of a Cleburne County church became infected with COVID-19 after attending a children’s ministry event.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Pra-chid
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.