CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE – MARCH 17, 2020 UPDATE
Dear Members and Friends of Holy Shepherd Lutheran Church,
The threat which our community and the global community face due to the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is real. We believe it is important for us to do what we can to ensure that our community is a safe one and that we are doing what we can to assist you – and all whom Jesus would call our ‘neighbors’ – amid this community health crisis. Based upon the best guidance from our nation’s Centers for Disease Control (cdc.gov) and the Contra Costa County Health Services Dept., the following represent things which you (as individuals and households) can do and things which we (as a faith-community) will do to best respond in this situation.
THINGS YOU CAN DO
DON’T PANIC – As people of God, we are called to be witnesses of hope, encouragement, generosity, patience and prayer. Rather than being controlled by fear, we are called to be people of faith and beacons of light in dark times. Take a deep breath and remember that God is still here. In 1527, Martin Luther wrote a letter entitled Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague. In it, he spoke at length of how moments of community crisis like this one we now face present themselves as opportunities for each of us to be ‘little Christs to our neighbors’, serving and helping others as best we can.
USE COMMON SENSE – The “Best Practices” of every cold and flu season are things we should all be practicing right now! The CDC recommends individuals and families follow these everyday preventive measures:
• Cover Your Coughs and Sneezes with a tissue and drop the tissue in the trash.
• Wash Hands Often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds – especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after touching your mouth and nose.
• Use Alcohol-based Hand Sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available.
• Regularly Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects, like doorknobs.
• Stay Home When You Are Sick with respiratory disease symptoms – including particularly fever, cough or shortness of breath.
• Keep in Contact with Others via phone calls or text messages, so as to ensure that you can get help if needed.
• Observe the Arm’s Length Rule by avoiding situations wherein you are forced to be within arm’s length of another person. “Observing the Arm’s Length Rule” – as called “social distancing” – means not getting too close to others, not sitting too close to others, not greeting one another by touch.
BE MINDFUL OF THE ELDERLY – Older people and those with chronic health conditions are particularly vulnerable to Coronavirus. If you are elderly (defined by the Contra Costa Health Services Dept. as those age 65+), be cautious about putting yourself in situations wherein you may unnecessarily risk infection. Be particularly cautious if you are 80 years and older or if you have an underlying medical condition!. If you are in contact with others who are elderly, avoid behaviors which might unnecessarily endanger them.
THINGS WE WILL DO
Contra Costa County has joined the other counties of the Bay Area in ordering a mandatory “Shelter-in-Place” directive, effective as of March 17. Essentially, this order is designed to have people minimize leaving their homes and decrease the number of people interacting and potentially sharing the virus. The whole goal is to minimize the spread of the virus and keep the impact upon our healthcare system within a manageable level. The order does allow people to go out for groceries, prescriptions, doctor’s appointments and engage in outdoor activities, in compliance with social distancing requirements. The order also allows essential businesses to remain open. These include, but aren’t limited to, healthcare, grocery stores, gas stations, banks, hardware stores and media outlets. (The order — along with the most current community information — can be found at cchealth.org.)
As of this writing, our Preschool and LARC community-ministry programs are suspended. Additionally — per the Country directive — we have suspended all worship gatherings and meetings on our campus — effective through AT LEAST April 7, 2020.
WE’LL TRY TO KEEP YOU UP-TO-DATE AS BEST WE CAN – As the situation changes, we will try to keep you informed about our changing response to it. We don’t yet know exactly what that may mean, but we will strive to ensure that our church is doing everything we can – together and for one another – to face these uncertainties with both hope and honesty.
WE’LL BE HERE IF YOU NEED US – If you need to hear an encouraging word or need some form of assistance (including grocery shopping) in these uncertain times, please reach out to us. We can only be church for one another if we know what you may need. Particularly if you are one who lives alone, let our church family be your family and support you as we can.
For now, be well, and God’s peace to all.
Pastor John Valentine and Pastor Pam Schaefer Dawson