March 12 Statement Regarding the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus
Dear UMVIM Community,
This week the U.S. State Department issued a Level 3 Global Health Advisory urging all U.S. Citizens to reconsider travel in light of the spread of COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus. The World Health Organization has now classified it as a pandemic. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control have suggested that U.S. travelers returning from countries with widespread or ongoing "community spread" of the virus should self-quarantine for 14 days upon return. Currently, those countries are China, Italy, Iran, and South Korea but conditions are changing daily and that list may expand. The President even took to the airwaves just last night to announce a 30-day travel ban preventing most Europeans from coming to the U.S.
Public health experts agree that the best way to slow the transmission of the virus is to engage in "social distancing" and to limit exposure to large groups of people. Some communities and states within the Northeastern Jurisdiction have imposed travel restrictions and quarantines of their own. Since people may carry the virus without displaying symptoms, it is important to remember that we may pose more of a risk to our ministry partners around the world than they pose to us.
As COVID-19 continues to spread and affect communities all over the world, we remind United Methodist Volunteers in Mission of John Wesley's first General Rule: "Do No Harm" and we encourage all scheduled volunteer teams to take the following precautions:
- Visit the Centers for Disease Control website, cdc.gov, and the World Health Organization website, who.int, for specific information regarding the Coronavirus and how it may affect communities you volunteer with. If traveling abroad, visit the State Department website (travel.state.gov) as well for travel warnings. Note that within any country, regions may be restricted while other parts of the country are open.
- If flying, check with airlines to inquire about any new heightened health measures, as well as cancellations, due to COVID-19.
- For teams that have purchased insurance, international or domestic, through any jurisdiction UMVIM, you may receive notification if there is any change in coverage due to the threat of the Coronavirus. Connect with your jurisdiction coordinator with any questions or concerns.
- When traveling, or at home, be sure to practice basic hygiene, including thoroughly washing your hands and/or using hand sanitizer.
If there are any new developments that may affect volunteers, we will be in touch with any teams and volunteers that may be affected via email, website, and Facebook.
PLEASE NOTE: Out of an abundance of caution, please note that the 2020 NEJ Mission Academy has been canceled until further notice. We hope to reschedule the event when the risks to public health diminish.
Powerpoint from Global Ministries' Global Health Unit
This is from a staff presentation at Global Ministries on March 18, 2020.