Six months ago, Guilford County leaders would never have dreamed that the county would be in the church cleaning business.

However, that’s just one more thing you can mark down on your list of strange results of the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of its very broad measures to address the COVID-19 threat, Guilford County is now providing funds to houses of worship to help them pay for cleaning and disinfecting the pews and everything else inside.

Guilford County Emergency Management Division Director Don Campbell told the Board of Commissioners at a recent work session that the county had up to $1.6 million in relief grant funding that could be used for the purpose.

Campbell said the county studied federal guidelines regarding the grant money to make sure it fell under eligible items. He said one purpose of the federal relief money was to support public health measures related to the virus.

Churches that need funding for disinfection and related cleaning can put in an application with the county.

Guilford County Deputy Manager Clarence Grier told the Board of Commissioners that churches that have already put in a request for relief money for food programs should amend their budgets to include needed cleaning funds as well.

Commissioner Carolyn Coleman, who’s advocated for the program, recommended providing $10 per square foot, however, county staff said that assigning a hard and fast rule such as that would be too cumbersome.

“The challenge is that the cost is different depending on whether it was a cleaning, a sanitization or a disinfection,” Campbell said, “and it’s hard for us to identify exactly what the needs are of those churches to make a recommendation per square foot.”

He added that churches could make their specific needs known in their requests to the county.

“They know their needs best and they would be able to show what they need for their facility,” Campbell said.