One of the things I will always remember about the pandemic is what it is like when what we want to know is still unfolding. Over and over again we’ve said, “we’ll know more soon” and “we’ll know more in a month.”
Last month I wrote that there was talk of booster shots. One month later, booster shots are happening.
As I write this, multiple bits of news come across my email and social media. We have a vaccinated congregant diagnosed with Covid (aka breakthrough illness). An immunocompromised colleague has just received a booster shot and reports flu-like symptoms and chills. A major airline will charge its unvaccinated employees an extra $200 a month due to the increased health risk of being unvaccinated.
A group of local doctors have written to our regional public health officer asking for reinstitution of indoor masking requirements, and for a proof-of-vaccination mandate for indoor patrons of bars, restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues.
Chalice staff and lay leaders are working hard to figure out how we can meet in-person as safely as possible. It is the challenge of our times that there is not a simple answer to this puzzle, nor is there just one answer. It is true (and I have said before) that each of you will need to assess your own risk tolerance in deciding what activities you are willing to do in person. And it is also true that many of you are looking to church leaders for guidance in making that assessment. We are all of us worn out, and the more we can help each other make good decisions, the better.
Just a few days ago we received some concrete guidance from the UUA. Their message includes the following recommendations (Note: San Diego County’s current risk level is Very High, according to COVID Act Now data):
- For all indoor gatherings, regardless of size, vaccination status, or area transmission risk: Require good ventilation, well-fitted masks, physical distancing of at least 6 ft, reduced occupancy, no singing, and no food, nor drinks.
- Require well-fitted masks for all large outdoor events, for any outdoor event where unvaccinated children or other vulnerable people are included, and for outdoor gatherings of any size in counties where transmission is Very High or Severe (per the COVID Act Now data).
- As children below age 12 cannot yet be vaccinated, hold religious education activities and multi-age programs outdoors. If children are indoors, ensure excellent ventilation, masking, physical distancing, and reduced room occupancy.
- In areas where transmission risk is Very High or Severe, suspend all large, in-person (indoor and outdoor) gatherings such as worship, concerts, or fundraisers.
- In areas where transmission risk is Low, Medium, or High, small and mid-size gatherings, including limited-attendance worship, may be reasonably safe if indoor precautions for masking, ventilation, physical distancing and high vaccination rates are followed.
- Create an expectation that vaccinations are required or everyone who is eligible. Work to have the highest vaccination rate possible in your community. We support requiring vaccinations for staff, lay leaders, and anyone spending time with children.
We continue to work toward being able to worship in-person (and online) sometime in September.
Blessings and love to you,