Local Church Takes Precautions Against Flu

Posted at: 01/20/2013 9:01 PM
Updated at: 01/20/2013 10:49 PM
By: Jenna Lohse

(ABC 6 News) -- The freezing temperatures that hit overnight means more people are spending their time indoors. Local churches are taking extra precautions against spreading the flu.  

Influenza and below freezing temperatures are often thought of as simultaneous, but health officials say there's more of an indirect connection between the two.

"What we do when it gets colder outside is we tend to spend more time indoors and we tend to spend more time closer together," said Dawn Beck of Olmsted County Public Health.

Congregating indoors is a Sunday routine at Faith Evangelical Free Church in Austin. Such tight quarters makes it easier for the virus to spread.

"We have many people in our congregation who have either been out of work, a couple of guys I heard this morning that are rarely sick who have been out for a week or so ," said Mike Sager, Pastor of Faith Evangelical Free Church.

They're now taking extra precautions against the flu.

"A lot of them wear gloves as they come in," said Lori Bergstrom, member of Faith Evangelical Free Church.

For Bergstrom, greeting church goers is sometimes a simple hello.

"As long as we're doing what we can and you know washing our hands and being respectful of those who don't want to shake hands," said Bergstrom.

"A number of very creative folks in our congregation made a video just kind of showing different ways to greet without actually shaking hands, whether it's the elbow bump or the pound or whatever," said Sager.

Keeping in mind the health of others during this severe flu season.

"It's that tension of wanting to show love, wanting to encourage each other, but also wanting to care for one another, not make others sick, so it's a tension you kind of live with," said Sager.

Wee Learning Center at St. Olaf Lutheran Church in Austin also took precautions this week. They had all kids stay home Wednesday through Friday due to the flu.