You can’t escape it, there’s constant talk on the news about the new Covid variants, BA4 and BA5, which are now taking over the country and driving up infection rates. At least four families in our congregation have gotten it in the last month (that I know of), and I can assure you from personal experience that it’s no fun. But we’ve been through this many times over the last 2.5 years, and it gets difficult to figure out what’s real news that we need to worry about and what is alarmist handwringing by media folks who just want the ad revenue. Thankfully, there are several epidemiologists, virologists and testing experts who have been very generous with their research, and I am going to try to distill some of this information into action steps that can help to keep our congregation safe this summer.
First, the bad news:
Reinfections are on the rise. If you had covid more than a few months ago, you’re not very protected from getting Covid a second time, and there’s no guarantee that a repeat bout with Covid will be less severe than the first.
But there are steps we can take to help keep us protected:
- If you are eligible for a booster shot, go get one. Vaccines continue to do a very good job of keeping most people out of the hospital with covid. If you are over 50 or immunocompromised, you may be able to get another booster. You can get vaccines free of charge at our local CVS as well as most other pharmacies. Also, our Woodford County Health Department offers vaccines on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.
- Consider wearing a mask in crowded places. If you’re in a room of people for more than a few minutes (such as a sanctuary), increased mask wearing can decrease the chances that you’ll spread or catch germs. At this point ECC does not have any plans of requiring masks again, but we will continue to monitor risk levels and keep you posted.
- Keep a stock of rapid Covid tests in your home. You can order free tests from https://www.covid.gov/tests, or stop by your preferred pharmacy and ask about tests there. You are entitled to 8 tests/month covered by your insurance.
- Use those tests regularly. If you’re feeling poorly, a rapid test will help you know whether you’re suffering from allergies, a little cold, or have caught Covid. This will help you keep others safe, as well as allow you to get Paxlovid, which needs to be started soon after symptoms start for best results. It’s also a good idea to test yourself before visiting elderly or sick friends, just in case you’re infected but have no symptoms.
If you have questions or concerns about Covid in our community, please reach out to talk about it. If you have medical questions, call your doctor or the Health Department. If you are struggling with emotional or spiritual problems coming from the fact that we’ve been in pandemic mode for almost 2.5 years? Call me. I am happy to sit down with you and chat. This absolute disruption to life as we know it has left many of us feeling disconnected, dysregulated, and has left some of us without a lot of hope. Please do not suffer alone. Humans are meant to be in community, and I want to help.
Grace and peace to you all,