Objective: Our research objective is to work with leaders of houses of worship in the local community to assess options for the physically reopening of places of worship. Method: This study consists of two parts. The first part consists of working with a leader of a house of worship to formulate a decision process based on the priorities of the organization and its physical size and population. The second part involves the modeling of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus spread within a physical space to provide the leadership of the house of worship an estimate of the outcomes of deciding on various courses of action. The model is a modification of a standard virus model developed for the NetLogo programming environment. Results: The team worked with a large local church in Pennsylvania to physically reopen a worship service. Based on the questionnaire data, the congregation did not prefer the strongest form of the SARS-CoV-2 virus mitigation (mask wearing and social distancing) but favored either mask required and no social distancing or masks optional and social distancing. The team simulated conditions representative of the church and found that social distancing is the key factor to mitigate spread. Conclusion: Given the preferences of the congregation, our simulation results suggested that one of the favored options would likely yield a large number of infections (>10% in a scenario with an asymptomatic carrier). This information was provided to the leadership to guide their decision-making for the coming months as poor weather will rule out outdoor worship as a viable option.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Human Factors and Ergonomics
- Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering