In early July, the Medical Advisory Team (MAT) of Pilgrim, people who have expertise in medicine, nursing, law, and medical science, was formed. The members of the team all are members of Pilgrim.
The MAT was charged with the task of advising Pastor, the Elders and the Board of Directors on the wisest, safest course to take as we move toward resuming the worship and congregational experiences that all of us enjoyed prior to the invasion of the coronavirus. To accomplish this task, the MAT gathers the most up-to-date and reliable information available about the coronavirus and COVID-19 from respected authorities in public health and other trusted sources, digests and analyzes that information, and makes its recommendations.
All of us, MAT members included, want to return to our customary ways of worship and socialization as quickly as possible, but we must make this return safely AND with a due consideration of the realities of how and why epidemics do what they do. Epidemics, after all, are fundamentally about communities, and Pilgrim Lutheran Church is a community. Moreover, viruses don’t care what the members of a community might WANT to do in the midst of an epidemic; viruses only “care” about having a continuous supply of victims to infect and being able to reproduce. Accordingly, the main considerations that drive the MAT’s approach to managing our return to “normal” must focus almost exclusively on minimizing, if not totally preventing, viral transmission within the congregation and into our surrounding communities. It is for this reason that it is imperative that all of us diligently observe the existing mitigation procedures: Wear a face mask; stay away from crowds in public places, especially if other folks are not wearing masks; keep a physical distance of at least six feet from people who are not in your social “bubble;” and limit the time you spend in the presence of folks who are not in your social “bubble,” especially if that contact is indoors.
The question on everyone’s mind, of course, is when will we be able to gather again for services in our sanctuary? While there is no sure-fire way to pinpoint a specific date for our return since we have neither an effective treatment for COVID-19 nor a vaccine, it will be safest to gather inside when the prevalence of the virus within the community is low; that is, when the incidence of new cases of COVID-19 within the community is very much diminished. At the present time, however, the incidence of new cases of COVID-19 within Hamilton County (and Marion County) is unacceptably high. Indeed, the latest surge of new cases in Hamilton County has been at record-high levels since at least early August. The good news in this regard is that the incidence of new cases appears to be decreasing (you can see a graph of the daily/weekly progression of new COVID-19 cases at https://www.coronavirus.in.gov/. Even so, this virus gives ground only very slowly and we are still certainly weeks, and possibly months, away from the point at which we might even begin to consider recommending easing our restrictions on gathering indoors. This estimate assumes that the onset of cold weather and the “flu” season doesn’t bring on another surge of COVID-19 cases, which many experts expect.
Please be patient, stay with the mitigation interventions, and feel free to ask questions of the MAT through Pastor Heidi.
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