It seems the Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus is beginning to infect many more people and pass through the vaccination, but to a lessor degree. From the beginning, my concern has been for the health of our congregation, hence keeping our doors closed until we got a handle on the virus. We have however, had the Delta-variant coronavirus affect us already. At least one person of our members has been diagnosed with the virus, though that person was vaccinated and is doing well at the moment. It is not thought that the virus was picked up at St. John’s.
While we do not want to go back mandating the wearing of masks and to stop singing in worship services, we may have to do just that if the numbers keep going up with persons affected by the disease. In the meantime, I would highly suggest that parishioners wear a mask when coming to church and worshipping in public. There will be disposable masks available in the narthex, as you enter the church. I would ask that those who have not been vaccinated abstain from coming to church in person and follow our worship as it is streamed online by YouTube and Facebook at 10:30 AM each Sunday. I will assume most of our number are vaccinated. If I had my druthers, I would ask each person to verify that they have received their vaccination by showing their vaccination card in order to come into church. We are not however, at that point yet. If it seems prudent to do this in the future, I am willing to call a special meeting of the Vestry to respond again to this crisis. Again, my only incentive in this is to make sure all are safe from getting the virus. May God give us strength to deal with our present circumstances. Fr. Bill+
Below are guidelines for protocols sent from the Diocesan Office:
Delta Variant Guidelines FROM BISHOP HAYNES AND THE HEALTH ADVISORY PANEL Unfortunately the Coronavirus is upon us again, this time in the form of the Delta variant. Cases are on the upswing and percent positivity is rising again. Bishop Haynes convened the Health Advisory Panel on Monday, August 2 to seek their counsel.
The Health Advisory Panel offered the following website as a resource: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view This map tracks by county the level of transmission risk in each state from low to moderate to substantial to high. This can be tracked on a daily basis by county. The CDC recommends that indoor masking continue in places where the transmission risk is high. Additionally the Health Advisory Panel offers the following resource: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated-guidance.html This is a list of guidelines from the CDC for people who are fully vaccinated. At this time the Diocese is not imposing any diocesan wide mandates. Congregations are encouraged to monitor the transmission risk in their area and to mandate indoor masking if the transmission risk is high. Congregations are further invited to monitor percent positivity rates in their areas and to consider what further restrictions they might impose if the percent positivity rate rises above 8%. AT THE VERY LEAST INDOOR MASKING SHOULD BE STRONGLY ENCOURAGED IF NOT MANDATED DURING PUBLIC WORSHIP. The Health Advisory Panel notes that the rolling 7 day average of cases is increasing dramatically as each day unfolds. Anecdotally a substantial number of cases are considered breakthrough in that they are being found in people who are fully vaccinated. The Health Advisory Panel expects that the rise in Delta variant cases will peak in late August, early September. Many congregations are already returning to some of the protocols which were in place prior to May 15 when all restrictions were lifted. Each congregation, in conjunction with clergy and vestry, should decide their own protocols with the following guidelines: · Masking, even for fully vaccinated people, is strongly advised. · Social distancing should be observed where possible. · Attention should be given to ensuring adequate ventilation. · Services should be shortened where possible. · Any congregational singing should be with masks. · Any coffee hour observed should be with individually pre-packaged food and drinks.