Essential Guidance

last updated January 4, 2022

New York State mandate requires all individuals to wear masks indoors in public places, including houses of worship.

Additionally, current CDC guidance recommends that vaccinated individuals wear masks indoors in public in areas of “Substantial” or “High” community transmission.

The CDC’s COVID-19 Data Tracker indicates that all counties in the Diocese are at “High” levels of community transmission.

Per CDC guidance, masks are required for all individuals participating in indoor in-person activities on church property and in any parish-sponsored indoor gatherings. This requirement applies regardless of gathering size, vaccination status of individuals, or gathering purpose.

Current CDC guidance also recommends face coverings indoors for teachers, staff, students and visitors in all schools nationwide, regardless of vaccination status. Parishes with children’s programs or with children attending public in-person worship will want to consider how this updated recommendation for schools should inform the parish COVID-19 response plan.

Featured Resources

Monitoring COVID-19

COVID-19 Vaccines

The Emotional Life Cycle of a Disaster (Episcopal Relief & Development)


God is calling Central New York Episcopalians to live into our shared vision of a world healed by love. We will care for our communities and one another through our faithful response. 

The goals of Episcopalians in Central New York include: 

  • Sharing God’s love and hope with our communities in this uncertain time.
  • Keeping Jesus’ command to “remember the least of these”—the most vulnerable members of our community—by doing all we can to slow the spread of infectious disease.
  • Continuing to provide people with the very best pastoral care now and in the months to come.
  • Continuing prayer, worship, and formation, whether gathered in-person or online.
  • Continuing community outreach ministries safely.
  • Careful and cautious: We desire to protect and welcome the most vulnerable members of our communities. Therefore, we will typically take precautions beyond what is required by state regulations to slow the spread of COVID-19. 
  • Inclusive: We desire to extend hospitality, including a safe environment, to all members of our communities. To provide for the safety of those who are not yet unvaccinated, including children, we will continue to take precautions in all public gatherings. We also strongly encourage the continuation of online and hybrid worship, formation and pastoral care. 
  • Transformative: We desire to be part of the new thing that God is doing in the midst of this crisis. Therefore, we do not expect a “return to normal.” As we learn to love God, one another, and all creation in changing circumstances, our churches will be transformed.

COVID-19 Vaccines

Episcopal Church’s COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

Churches and church leaders (lay and ordained) can serve as important trusted bridges between public health officials and congregations. Available in English and Spanish, the Episcopal Church’s COVID-19 Vaccine toolkit offers ideas and resources to help your church support vaccine distribution efforts.

“Do this one for the children.” Presiding Bishop Michael Curry encourages all Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

How do mRNA Vaccines Work? Penn Medicine explains

Information about COVID-19

Monitoring COVID-19

Hospitalization Rates (NYS)

COVID-19 Positivity Rates (NYS)

Vaccination Rates (NYS)

COVID-19 Data Hub (NYS)

COVID-19 Data Tracker (CDC)

Track Coronavirus Cases in Counties of this Diocese (created using New York Times dashboard; free NYT account may be required)

Also: You can sign up to get free daily updates, customized for your community, from the New York Times Coronavirus Tracker. Sign up for the “Coronavirus Tracker” newsletter at You may need to create a free NYT account, but a subscription is not required. In the first daily update, you’ll see a link to customize future updates.

COVID-19 Risk Guide by County (New York Times)

December 2021 COVID-19 Update with Dr. Jessica Shand (URMC)

Dr. Jessica Shand of the University of Rochester Medical Center gives a brief overview of the “knowns and unknowns” in this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, and offers a perspective on how congregations can faithfully respond. This presentation was recorded via Zoom on December 15, 2021.

More resources by topic

Air Quality


Congregational Singing

  • Safe Congregational Singing resources from the Center for Congregational Song.
  • To reduce risk for participants:
    • Fully vaccinated is safer than unvaccinated or partially vaccinated
    • Masked is safer than unmasked (note that those not fully vaccinated should always wear masks)
    • More distance is safer than less distance
    • Outdoors is safer than indoors (more ventilation is better than less ventilation)
    • Less total time together  is safer than more time together
  • Note that CDC guidance on singing and COVID-19 tends to be geared toward individuals, not organizations.


Live Streaming & Online Worship


Vestry Meetings and Online Parish Annual Meetings & Elections


Funeral Assistance

  • This federal non-need-based program, beginning on April 12, 2021, covers up to $9,000 in funeral expenses for anyone who died of COVID-19 in the US since January 20, 2020. The person who died does not need to be a citizen/non-citizen national/qualified alien, but the applicant must be.
  • Churches can help by educating and encouraging eligible people to apply.
  • Download: FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Assistance (this is a zip file containing a Presentation and Q&A from Episcopal Relief & Development on the program, a flyer, and more)
  • View FEMA program website:

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