This page will be updated regularly as a count-down to when singing together is safe again based on current recommendations from the CDC and other public health institutions.
Total US Population Vaccination Percentage
Safe Congregational Singing:
National Threshold = 70% to 85% of population fully vaccinated
Current National Vaccination Rate = 78.9% (as of August 12, 2022)
Most up-to-date national and local stats can be found here: CDC COVID Data Tracker
To utilize the CDC’s “Community Levels” tool to find information specific to your city/county, go here: CDC Community Levels
OUR CURRENT RECOMMENDATION
If your local community falls within the CDC’s “Low” Community Level, the Center for Congregational Song’s recommendation is that it is reasonable for your community to sing together. While the pandemic continues, there will still be risks during our public gatherings, especially for those who are immunocompromised or too young to get vaccinated. Continuing to maintain social distance and wearing masks/face-coverings helps reduce the risks to these populations.
Last updated: August 12, 2022
47 thoughts on “Covid Updates – Congregational Song”
Looking forward to hearing when it is safe. I am a director of music for my church and also a community choir. They are so missing singing. Please let me know.
Are there comparative studies on projected speech vs singing? Presently pastors speaking unmasked for 25 minutes seem to be deemed safe but a 4 minute solo by a trained soprano is freaking people out. This seems incongruous to me. Also I’d be interested in the differences in risks between “intimate singing” and “exuberant singing”. I’ve invented the terms because I don’t know of any other way to express it. Thank you.
This is probably the best study to show things side-by-side: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7875408/
This may also be helpful: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02786826.2020.1812502
This article provides links to 5 studies that measure particles produced during breathing, speaking, and singing at different volumes: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/wise-sing-christmas-carols/
This information is priceless! Thank you.
Thank you for this graphic that can be shared with our churches! Just a suggestion, although I’m not sure if it can be done: you should also be factoring in those who survived Covid-19 over the last few months. Herd immunity (which makes singing safer) is reached through a combination of vaccination and infection, not only vaccination.
Does this indicate singing with or without masks?
This is an amazing site. Thank you on behalf of thousands of music communities that want to sing.
What do we care about the NATIONAL vaccination rate. My church is at nearly 65%. That’s the only rate that matters. When it his 80%. We’ll be open for business and singing with masks.
Wonderful! So glad you all are tracking your local rate.
Is this threshold we are looking at for singing with masks or without, or does it make a difference?
Also what if we know the vaccinate rate of our specific congregation, if that is above 80% does that mean we can sing safely?
This is the threshold for when the whole country should be able to sing together unmasked and without social distancing. Local rates and safety guidelines before this national threshold is met will vary.
We are a small, older, mostly vaccinated congregation, and very well spaced, so we are going to sing masked (and quietly) on Easter Sunday.
Where did the target of 70-85% come from? Thanks.
There are varying targets (WHO, CDC, and Dr. Fauci), but the general range is somewhere between 60 and 85% to achieve “herd immunity”. You can read more about that in this article: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/24/health/herd-immunity-covid-coronavirus.html
We have celebrated Sung Mass online for a year although the church is closed to the public.
Any thoughts on guidelines for *outdoor* and socially distanced song? I’m looking at putting together an outdoor contemporary service this summer and need some data.
This ecumenical consultation that we’ve been a part of has guidance for outdoor worship: https://www.facebook.com/worshipsafely/
What if I know that over 80% of the people in the church building are fully vaccinated? Or 100% of those over the age of 16?
Good question! We’re not sure yet. We know that when a large region (like the U.S.) reaches 75 to 80% vaccination, we’ll have what’s referred to as “herd immunity,” which means the spread of the virus will be minimized to a point where it does not pose an active threat. However, we’re not sure how that translates to very local situations since the spread could still come from outside of your community.
So this data is not indicative of safe rates for singing masked and distanced? I know that these are local decisions, but I am very interested not just in people’s “gut” feeling or “I feel comfortable” but on a good metric for masked+distanced+target percentage in my area (we can get it down to the zip code).
Correct, this is for singing unmasked and without social distance. Currently, it is safe to sing together at a distance of 10 to 12 feet apart and masked. However “masked” means properly fitted masks worn correctly the entire time (which is very difficult if not impossible to regular for an entire congregation).
Recently, in California, request to double mask when going into a place of business, ?church ?
Seems double mask would be helpful to return to singing.
Do you have a source for “Currently, it is safe to sing together at a distance of 10 to 12 feet apart and masked. However “masked” means properly fitted masks worn correctly the entire time (which is very difficult if not impossible to regular for an entire congregation).” Thank you!
That information is sourced from our work within the Ecumenical Consultation that has been publishing guidelines over the last 8 months or so. Their work is always passed through the CDC for critique and confirmation based on their current recommendations. https://www.facebook.com/worshipsafely
Greetings from Tennessee: I have read through your work and appreciate that some within the broader Church, for me within the UMC, are offering guidance for churches. Has anyone on the Consultation or at the Hymn Society reviewed the work of Drs. Shelly Miller (U of Col.), James Weaver(Ch. NFSHSA), Mark Spede (Clemson, Pres. CBDNA) and Jelena Srebic (U of MD). In Feb. & early March, our church worked with them to develop a Brief offering guidance on when, how and where to sing safely. I do see a few names on the Consultation (Drs. Burton & Weaver and possibly Brian Hehn), who have likely heard of this team’s work (which is supported by 31 national and international organizations on singing and music). Could you please put me in touch with one of your leaders who would be able to help us reconcile the work of these two exceptional groups of leaders?
Yes. Brian Hehn just wrote a blog synthesizing the NFCS study as it pertains to congregational song. You can find that here: https://congregationalsong.org/covid-19-nfhs-study-update/
Is there any information about a vaccinated soloist? Still masked until we reach the national threshold? Or is there a distance at which this is considered safe?
The CDC just recently updated their recommendations for folks who are fully vaccinated (note: *fully* vaccinated). https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated-guidance.html
New CDC guidelines say it is now safe to sing indoors masked. I am curious now that masks are not needed outdoors if they are still recommending masked singing and social distancing while singing outdoors.
Can you please link to those new CDC guidelines?
How often is the needle visual updated?
Yes, please. A link to the guidance would be very helpful as I can’t seem to find ANY recent reference to singing. Guidance saying it’s safe (masked/unmasked, whatever) would be very useful as we prepare to resume singing.
IN LIGHT OF TODAY’s CDC UNMASKING – What is the guidance given to congregational singing?
Is there updated guidance regarding singing now that the CDC has stated that vaccinated people do not need to wear masks in small or large groups anymore? Does this also apply to singing now as well?
Please provide the CDC link that says masked indoor singing is OK. Also, has anyone seen any guidance for the new guidelines for vaccinated people? If so, please provide the link.
Also looking for guidance on guidelines for singing in church, both for soloists, groups (choirs, etc.), as well as congregational hymn singing.
The CDC has now specifically stated as of May 12 that it is safe for fully-vaccinated people to sing in an indoor chorus and attend a full-capacity worship service with no mask and no distancing. One has to assume that either of these events may include people who are not vaccinated (and who should therefore wear a mask and maintain a 6-ft distance). We are at 34% vaccinated (US), and according to this graphic, we need to be at 80% to safely sing, but that’s not what the science is telling us now. Truthfully, I don’t believe that we will ever hit 80% vaccinated; there are too many people who are deniers, and refuse. At my church, masks are now optional for those fully vaccinated, and required for those who are not, but of course there is no proof required. Totally on the fence about what to do with my choir; we have been practicing masked, distanced and short durations in large rooms since November. I have pushed following the science all along, and now the science says fully-vaccinated are safe to resume mostly normal activities.
This is a visual representation of the CDC stating what is “safe” for fully vaccinated people. It is here you will see the referencing of “Attend a full-capacity worship service” and “Sing in an indoor chorus”
Looking to worship again July 3rd but reticent about hymn singing.
We have no choir at the moment. We have been on hiatus since last March. What we do is our soloists prerecord their solos. And the tape is then inserted into the power point for Sunday mornings. One records outside and the other records in the choir room. Seems to be working. Just a thought.
What do we know as of JUNE 1st,
The Beverly Northshoremen Barbershop Chorus
CDC safer choices says fully vaccinated people may sing indoors, unmasked
Yes, we’re aware of that. Please see our latest update concerning that CDC recommendation here: https://congregationalsong.org/covid-congregational-song-update-may-18-2021/
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