Minister’s Message – April
From Rev. Sharon Wylie
We are in a new phase of the pandemic. I call it: You’re on your own.
Overnight, the “trigger dashboard” on the County of San Diego’s website has disappeared. We are no longer receiving information about how many community outbreaks are occurring or where.
Masks are no longer required indoors in the State of California. Instead they are “strongly recommended.”
Indeed, the pandemic seems to be over, except that it’s not. In the United States, we are approaching one million deaths from COVID-19. People are still dying every day. We seem to have collectively decided that the only thing we really have energy for is pretending that everything is fine.
To describe the situation less sarcastically: public health policy is now focused on protecting the integrity of healthcare systems and not on preventing infection or protecting vulnerable populations.
The numbers we do know right now are good when compared to other times in the pandemic. In San Diego County, our daily case rate is less than 25. Our positivity percentage is less than 8%. The infection rate is less than 1 (meaning that spread is declining). These good trends prompted us to allow for in-person worship (in addition to online worship) starting on March 6 (this decision was emailed to the congregation on March 3).
At the same time, we know that a new variant (BA.2) is already in San Diego. Given that the mask mandate has gone away, we can expect that numbers will begin increasing again.
This is our lives now.
What “you’re on your own” means is that for the most part, when you make decisions about what events you attend and what activities you participate in, you cannot assume there will be any protections in place. If you go to the store, it is because you feel reasonably safe with your own protections. If you travel, it is because you feel reasonably safe and willing to take a certain amount of risk. If you eat at restaurants…well, you get the gist.
At Chalice, we continue to work as a community to take care of each other while offering choices that are allowing many of us to be together in-person again: for Sunday worship, for coffee hour afterwards, for our small group meetings. We continue to acquire and improve our technologies for offering multiplatform gathering options.
It is the work of each of us to be clear about what protections we need for our own safety and comfort, to communicate those needs to those around us, and perhaps most importantly of all, not to shame or pressure each other about our choices. There is no shame in wanting to wear a mask, and no shame in feeling comfortable without one. There is no shame enjoying being at home, and no shame in wanting to be out and about.
As a whole, ours is a cautious community. A substantial percentage of us are fully vaccinated. The many grandparents in our community are especially careful because they do not want to bring illness to grandchildren who are not yet able to be vaccinated. We have immunocompromised congregants who are also extremely careful about their exposure to illness. And of course, all our congregants aged 65 and older are considered an at-risk group, even with vaccination.
I am joyful that vaccination, wearing masks, keeping some distance, and gathering outdoors when we can are all safety precautions that we can offer each other to help minimize our collective risk. What a blessing to be in San Diego County! What a blessing to have a courtyard! What a blessing to be in loving community with each other!
Yes, this phase of the pandemic may be “You’re on your own.” But I am grateful that at Chalice, we are on our own, together.
Blessings and love to you,