I was fortunate to attend a COVID briefing from the County of San Diego for religious leaders yesterday (these briefings have happened periodically throughout the pandemic). We are in a very serious time of the pandemic:
- San Diego County is experiencing the highest number of COVID cases we’ve had during the entire pandemic
- Many people are experiencing symptoms but having trouble finding COVID tests (do NOT go to emergency rooms for testing)
- Our emergency departments are overcrowded AND our hospitals are experiencing staffing problems due to staff having COVID
- There are not enough COVID treatments (like monoclonal antibodies and antiviral pills) for everyone who has COVID
In general, I think this is a time to avoid unnecessary gatherings with people from outside your home. For that reason, we are ceasing in-person gatherings at Chalice for the month of January. I know this decision feels hard. For our choir, handchime, and religious education groups, it feels terrible to have to take what feels like a step backward. And since January is the month we had planned to begin worshipping in person, it feels hard to let go of that possibility when we have dreamed of it for so long.
It is okay to grieve these losses, okay to feel tired, okay to feel frustrated and angry.
I haven’t wanted the church to be the source of COVID information because that’s not our purpose, expertise, or strength. In this case, however, the omicron surge has come so strong and so quickly, and the news has been confusing and slow, that I thought it was worth bringing you some of the information from yesterday’s briefing.
The public health guidelines from the County of San Diego are different from the CDC’s. As residents of San Diego County, we are to follow the County guidelines. Please notice that the County defines “current and up-to-date” vaccination as including a booster dose (if eligible). (This is different from the CDC’s definition of “full vaccination,” which does not require a booster dose.)
I took screenshots of two of the slides of information, posted below. Here is the same information in a pdf file.
The two slides below describe protocols for isolation and quarantine. We are hearing these two terms a lot right now: isolation and quarantine. If you test positive or are exposed to COVID-19, you must isolate or quarantine.
- Quarantine means staying home.
- Isolation means staying home AND away from others. This means sleeping and staying in a separate room from those not infected and using a separate bathroom if you can.
“Close contact” is defined by the CDC as being within 6 feet of someone for a combined total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.
The County is always careful to tell us that the information they provide is only current until it is not. These were the news and guidelines that were current on January 5, 2022.
If you don’t have N95 masks, please consider double masking with the masks you do have.
Hopefully it is true that this surge will be over quickly.
Blessings and love to each of you.