On the latest episode of Social Distance, staff writer James Hamblin and executive producer Katherine Wells answer questions from listeners.
Listen to the episode here:
What follows is an edited and condensed transcript of their conversation.
James Hamblin: This question comes from Tyler Richter in Springfield, Missouri. He says, “As churches open up their doors, are they risking the safety of their congregants by singing together? Our church announced, prior to this past Sunday, that we would not be singing out of an abundance of caution. However, when we arrived we were told if we were to sing, we should do so at a very quiet volume, and most people were either mouthing the words or barely producing any sound when they sang.”
Katherine Wells: It seems like such a surreal scene.
Hamblin: Yeah, it’s kind of eerie, right? Part of the worship experience tends to be the exultation and singing loudly and joyously, and that seems to be a very risky part of this. Globally, when you look at the number of people who practice some form of religion that congregates and does some sort of either singing or chanting or praising, yelling out, exclaiming things—this is potentially a huge driver of transmission. It’s also something people are going to be quick to deem essential, as our president has. So it’s a legitimate question of how do you do this as safely as possible?