Interfaith Power & Light is urging all of our friends and supporters to follow the guidance of medical and public health professionals to stop COVID-19: Stay Home, Stop the Spread, Save Lives. Many of our programs and campaigns have been adapted for compliance with social distancing — check FaithClimateActionWeek for Earth Week programming accessible to all. IPL has been inspired by the rapid response of our congregations across the nation that have moved to hold services online, stay connected by phone, take care of the vulnerable in their communities, and we join them in praying for healing for all who are ill and for the health care workers on the front lines of this pandemic.
Below are educational and health resources, policy information including a summary of what’s in the recently passed Stimulus bill, prayers, songs and reflections, and related links. If you have a link or resource you’d like to share, please email it to: programs AT interfaithpowerandlight.org
HELP FOR CONGREGATIONS IN RESPONDING IMMEDIATELY
- 17 FAQs for Houses of Worship Considering Reopening Amid the Coronavirus Crisis from the Center for American Progress
- A Concise Coronavirus Guide for Churches Free Coronavirus guide for churches from Christianity Today
- Guidance for Congregations (PDF) Presbyterian Disaster Assistance
- Guidance for Churches from the Wisconsin Council of Churches
HOW TO OFFER WORSHIP ONLINE
- Advice on Online Worship (PDF) From Marcia McFee of Worship Design Studio
- COVID-19 Lockdown: Creating Live-streamed Worship in 3 Days From the website Hacking Christianity
- Facebook resources for faith communities – how to use FB live for services, etc.
- Resources for online screening of films and organizing around them.
- Tech Soup discount on Zoom for nonprofits.
- Denominational COVID-19 Resources: Suggested by NC IPL affiliate.
- Mental Health advice from Spirituality & Practice: Spiritual Practices for the Coronavirus Pandemic
PRAYERS AND POEMS
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “COVID-19, A Prayer of Solidarity”
- 20 Prayers to Pray During This Pandemic, Christianity Today
- Prayers from Reform Judaism, Prayer amid pandemic: words of comfort for the COVID-19 crisis
Buddhism: Buddhist teacher Ethan Nichtern notes that 20 seconds is about the time it takes to slowly recite the phrases of metta (lovingkindness) meditation. He posted these on his Facebook page:
“May all beings be safe.
May all beings be content.
May all beings be healthy.
May all beings live with ease.”
Thich Nhat Hanh’s book of mindfulness verses for daily living, Present Moment Wonderful Moment, has several gathas (short verses) for hand washing times:
When turning on the water:
“Water flows from high in the mountains.
Water runs deep in the Earth.
Miraculously, water comes to us,
and sustains all life.”
When washing your hands:
“Water flows over these hands.
May I use them skillfully
to preserve our precious planet.”
And the people stayed home, poem by Kitty O’Meara.
“And the people stayed home.
And read books, and listened, and rested,
And exercised, and made art, and played games
And learned new ways of being, and were still.
And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some
Prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows.
And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And, in the absence of
People living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and
Heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed,
And the people joined together again,
They grieved their losses, and made new choices, and
Dreamed new images, and created new ways to live
And heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.
SUGGESTIONS FOR TALKING TO CHILDREN
“Children are impacted by moments like these,” says the Rev. Don Remick, one of the UCC Southern New England Conference’s bridge Conference ministers. “Even if they aren’t watching the news, they’re picking it up. And they’re picking up the stress of their parents, teachers, family and classmates. You can do a lot to reduce their stress and remove their fears.” He suggests:
- Resources for Talking with Kids about COVID-19 From the Washington School-Based Health Alliance, Seattle
- Talking to Kids about the Coronavirus From the Child Mind Institute
- Resources for Individuals and Families With links to tips from FEMA, the Red Cross, Mr. Rogers and others, via the UCC Southern New England Conference websit
- Eco-Story Hour by Sarah Ogletree, NCIPL Program Coordinator’s new weekly storytime on Facebook LIve ~ join us on Wed. @ 12pm EST
- From the Centers for Disease Control
- From the California Department of Public Health
- Excellent information from the American Psychological Association
- Pandemic Preparations Checklist (PDF) By the Disaster Resource and Response Team, Southern New England Conference, UCC.
- CDC Guide to Cleaning Cleaning and disinfection recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
- A Family Doctor Helps Separate Fact from Fiction (video) In this 5-minute video from Colorado’s Southwest Health System, Dr. Peter Lin explains how the coronavirus spreads, how to minimize transmission and who’s at risk
- UNEP resources
WHAT’S IN THE STIMULUS BILL PASSED BY CONGRESS (CARES ACT):
- $1,200 one-time payment per adult (up to $75,000 in annual income for individuals and $150,000 for joint filers) and $500 per child
- Rebate amount reduced by $5 for each $100 a taxpayer’s income exceeds the income threshold with complete phaseout at $99,000 for individuals and $198,000 for joint filers
- Includes those with no income
- $900 million for Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program
Unemployment Insurance (UI)
- $600/week in addition to other UI benefits (totaling 100% wage replacement) for 4 months
- Temporary UI program for part-time, self-employed, gig economy, and other workers excluded from regular UI through December 31, 2020
- 13 additional weeks of unemployment benefits through December 31, 2020
- Provides federal funding for states to waive waiting weeks through December 31, 2020
- Full federal funding for existing STC (work sharing) programs, 50% federal funding for states beginning STC programs, and $100 million in grants to states through December 31, 2020
- $360 million for worker training and support and implementation costs at Department of Labor
Paid sick days & paid family and medical leave
- Retains exclusion of employers with more than 500 employees from emergency paid sick and paid family and medical leave programs
- Excludes parents who have to care for adult children with disabilities
- Allows exemption of executive branch employees from paid leave protections
- Allows employers and self-employed individuals to receive an advance tax credit for paid leave expenses.
- Suspends negative consumer credit reporting until 120 days after pandemic in the case of forbearance of payment modification
Small businesses and nonprofit organizations
- $350 billion for new Paycheck Protection Program to assist small businesses and nonprofits
- Forgivable loans for 8 weeks. of payroll (up to $10 million) to employers (including nonprofits) with less than 500 employees, self-employed individuals, and gig workers
- Loan forgiveness reduced if reduction in employees or pay
- Incentive for rehiring workers
- $17 billion to provide relief from SBA loan payments for 6 months
- $10 billion for SBA emergency grants for operating costs (up to $10,000)
- Allows deferment of 7(a) loan payments for 6-12 months
- Federal government covers 50% of unemployment compensation for nonprofits
Access to testing, treatment, and prevention
- Requires private insurers and Medicare to cover coronavirus preventative services and vaccines at no out-of-pocket cost.
- Requires diagnostic test providers to make the price for the coronavirus test publicly available.
- Requires Medicare to allow fills and refills of prescription drugs for up to 3-month supply during the emergency
- $15.85 billion for health care access for veterans
Health care capacity
- $100 billion for health care providers to cover coronavirus-related costs
- $27 billion for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund
- $16 billion for Strategic National Stockpile of pharmaceuticals, personal protective equipment (PPE), and other medical supplies
- $3.5 billion to expand production of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics
- $4.3 billion for federal, state, and local public health agencies
- $1 billion to ramp of manufacture of medical supplies through Defense Production Act
- Extends funding for Community Health Centers, National Health Service Corps, Teaching Centers, and Special Diabetes Program through November 30, 2020
- $1.4 billion for coronavirus operations by Active, National Guard and Reserve service members
- Additional $4.3 billion for CDC
- Additional $945 million for NIH
- Suspends Medicare cuts through sequestration through December 31, 2020
- Expanded access to telemedicine
- Establishes Ready Reserve Corps
- Provides needed resources for the Medical Reserve Corps and flexibility for the National Health Service Corps
- $30.75 billion for Education Stabilization Fund to support local school systems and higher education institution
- $13.5 billion for elementary and secondary education formula grants
- $3 billion for discretionary grants through states
- $14.25 billion for higher education
- Student loan payments suspended for 6 months with no interest accrual
- Months of suspended payments
- count toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness and income-driven repayment plans
- Income tax exclusion for employers to provide up to $5,250 for student loan repayment assistance
- Flexibility for colleges and universities to continue operating
- Flexibility for students whose program eligibility would be affected by coronavirus
- $3.5 billion for Child Care and Development Block Grants
- $750 million for Head Start
- $15.8 billion in additional funding for SNAP
- Emergency funding for other nutrition programs, including $8.8 billion for child nutrition programs and $450 million for food banks through TEFAP
- $4 billion for Emergency Solutions Grants for those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness
- $3 billion in rental assistance
- 120-day moratorium on evictions in properties receiving any federal assistance
- 60-day foreclosure moratorium on federally backed mortgages and up to 180 days of forbearance during emergency
State and local government aid
- $150 billion for Coronavirus Relief Fund for states
○ Includes anti-abortion Hyde Amendment restrictions
- $45 billion for FEMA Disaster Relief Fund for state, local, and tribal governments
- $25 billion for transit agencies
- $5 billion for Community
- Development Block Grant (CDBG), $1.5 billion for Economic Development Administration, and $50 million for Manufacturing Extension Partnership programs
- Federal government covers 50% of unemployment compensation for state, local, and tribal governments
- $8 billion set-aside for tribal governments in Coronavirus Relief Fund
- $1.032 billion for Indian Health Service (IHS)
- $453 million in additional appropriations to tribal governments
- $300 million for Indian Housing programs
- $100 million for Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
- $69 million for Bureau of Indian Education
Seniors and people with disabilities
- $955 million for nutrition programs, home and community based services, support for family caregivers, and other programs for seniors and individuals with disabilities
- $200 million to mitigate spread of coronavirus in nursing homes
- $50 in housing for low-income seniors
- $15 million for housing for people with disabilities
- Requires Social Security Number for cash assistance (excluding immigrant families)
- “Non-resident aliens” excluded from unemployment insurance
- Prevents exclusion of sanctuary jurisdictions from Byrne Justice Assistance Grants
- Prohibits transfer of funds to border wall
FURTHER POLICY ACTION NEEDED
We need to make sure that legislators are poised and will act quickly on pollution reduction and our climate crisis and, indeed, to include appropriate responses now. Cutting air pollution saves lives and can improve respiratory health especially for vulnerable people. Here are some climate issues that you can take action on now and stay aware of:
- Pledge to vote with climate and Creation in mind – Faith Climate Voter
- Protect public health and the right to vote amidst the COVID-19 situation. Tell your U.S. Senator to support the Vote by Mail legislation.
- Support “Carbon Covenant” – IPL’s Global Forest Climate Protection
IPL AFFILIATE AND PARTNER ORGANIZATIONS WITH FURTHER COVID-19 RESOURCES