We had a wonderful service on Easter Sunday. Seeing everyone smiling and greeting one another was heartwarming to say the least. After the service we found out that one of the attendees later tested positive for COVID. That person contacted Rev. Charlotte and identified the people with whom they had had contact. Rev. Charlotte contacted those identified people in order that they could monitor their health. We know that COVID is with us to stay and when we come together in our new building we must have a plan for when this happens again (it will). The proposed protocol for a COVID exposure is outlined below. We do want your input however, so after the service on May 8 we will have a forum on this protocol so everyone can ask questions, etc. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to Rev. Charlotte.
Proposed Protocol for COVID Exposure
1) If you have been to a GMUUC event and later test positive for COVID:
To remain in covenant with one another, it is of the utmost importance that you notify Rev. Charlotte immediately upon realizing that you may have potentially infected other people at GMUUC. Try to remember everyone you were in contact with (talking, eating, etc) for more than a few minutes at a distance of 6 ft or less. Hugging for even a few seconds would also qualify as close contact. Please tell Rev. Charlotte who those people were. Be assured that we will keep your identity confidential from this point on.
The people with whom the infected person came into close contact with will be notified via email.
2) If you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID:
You will receive an email from Rev. Charlotte informing you of the exposure. Sample text:
We have learned that you may recently have been in contact with someone who has Covid-19 while attending (date of service or event). Know that your health is our number one priority and that we are in full support of you, your family, and others who may have had similar contact. To this end, we ask that you follow the guidance below to best ensure your health and the health of others:
Self-monitor your health following the CDC guidelines in the link below.
If symptoms develop, self-isolate and please notify us to help in our contact tracing efforts.
Also notify anyone you have come in contact with about your condition and request that they self-isolate and self-monitor for symptoms and follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop.
When you notify us, be assured that we will maintain your confidentiality. We know that this is an uncertain and difficult time and we affirm that you are not alone in this journey. Please contact us with any questions or concerns you have.
3) If you receive an email from Rev. Charlotte that you have been potentially exposed to COVID, we ask that if you develop symptoms or test positive even in the absence of symptoms to please let her know so we can keep accurate records and make any potential decisions to ensure the health of the congregation.
Q: There is so much information, and disinformation, out there about COVID. How am I to make sense of what I need to pay attention to?
A: That is indeed true which is why we have created this space to help with that situation. The UUA is a good place to start. They have been using COVID-ActNow site which is a non-profit site dedicated to providing information. The CDC is, of course, another place for reliable information. The information does change all the time which makes it hard to keep up with what is safe, etc but that is the nature of a new pathogen that has killed almost a million people worldwide.
Q: What does the UUA recommend and/or what are other UU congregations doing at this time?
A: The UUA has detailed guidance which GMUUC is and has been monitoring from the beginning. Their recommendations are followed by most UU congregations. That information can be found at: https://www.uua.org/leadership/library/delta-guidance. The current COVID policy for GMUUC follows their guidance but we are in a severe risk area for transmission so even with good masks, social distancing, and good ventilation indoors the situation is risky for gathering in-person. From the UUA site linked above:
In areas where transmission risk is Very High or Severe, (per the COVID Act Now data), suspend all large, in-person (indoor and outdoor) gatherings such as worship, concerts, or fundraisers.
Q: I am vaccinated and boosted. Isn’t it safe for me to go out and about and be with others who are similarly protected?
A: From the CDC: When infections occur among vaccinated people, they tend to be milder than among those who are unvaccinated. Even vaccinated people who are infected can be infectious and can spread the virus to others. To reduce the risk of becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2 and spreading the virus to others, everyone should continue to use layered prevention strategies.
Those prevention strategies include effective masks, social distancing, and good hygiene. Just because you are vaccinated you can still contract COVID and pass it to others even if you have no symptoms.
Q: Looks like I need to buy more masks and/or how long can I wear my current mask?
A: That is a good question and this article can help: https://apple.news/AtQbFCU4GRf-flUJTD-bs0g.