Members of the task force and the MAP met this week to discuss what to propose for UUFA during this current COVID-19 spike. The decision was made to “Stay Calm and Carry On,” at least for the immediate present.
For almost two years these two groups have been making recommendations for UUFA based on ever-changing science and most recently, the new CDC guidelines (spring 2022). At present, the criteria for placing Clarke in a “high-risk” category and Oconee in a “medium” risk category has been the number of cases per 100,000. The members of the group have always looked at those numbers (cases/100,000) together with the impact COVID cases were having on the hospitals and their staff in the area (Region E). At present, COVID cases are only 6.3% of all hospital patients, with 82.6% of ICU beds in use. Participants in the meeting felt these were numbers that were low enough that we could continue meeting as we have been, even though cases/ 100,000 numbers would place us in the “high” category for Clarke County.
Over the last two years, much has changed for the better in terms of our knowledge of keeping folks safe from COVID infections. We know now that vaccinations can help to but not totally prevent infections, and at present even children 6 months and over can be vaccinated. Though our vaccination rate is very high, as evidenced by the responses to the earlier congregational survey, we encourage booster shots per CDC guidelines. Also, treatments for COVID, in particular the anti-viral medications now available, have made the illness much less threatening for most folks, as evidenced by the President’s recent bout with Covid.
We also know the importance of well-ventilated spaces, and we now know that the air exchange rate in the sanctuary is excellent. We have recommended that the number of people there be limited to 100, so please sit socially distanced somewhat from those folks you don’t live with. The Fellowship and Gathering Halls are available for up to 75 folks, and the AWE Room is available for 40 folks if you want to be in a much smaller group. We have very seldom if ever, had 215 folks in the building! Just let the greeters know when you sign in which of those spaces you’d prefer.
So, taking all these elements into consideration, we have decided to maintain our present course, at least for a while. We are asking you to always wear a well-fitting mask indoors, and UUFA will continue to provide them for those who come without one and will continue to provide hand sanitizer as well. During community time after services, we are also inviting you to get your food and drink and then move to the shady area of the yard by the playground and socially distance as much as possible. We will soon change the sign-in sheets to reflect new CDC guidelines for folks who have had COVID recently, as there seem to be more of us in that category than ever before.
We hope that you know that these recommendations are made after much deliberation and with the interest of the entirety of UUFA folks in mind. We know that for some of you, coming into the building is not an option you wish to take, and we hope you will continue to be a part of our community through the online services and Zoom option for meetings and events. For those of you who do feel comfortable coming into the building, we ask that you consider not only your well-being but all those other folks here who have “inherent worth” as well. Stay home if you’ve been recently exposed, especially if you have any symptoms, and please let the office know if you come down with COVID soon after having been here. The CDC has a Quarantine/Isolation calculator on its website for you to use to know what to do after exposure.
Please do everything you can to keep folks as healthy as possible, so that we are able to continue to meet in person.
“Stay Calm and Carry On” and keep your fingers crossed, too!