St. Jacob's Stone UCC Coronavirus Preparedness Meeting Feb. 22, 2021 New Information and Discussion Concerning Virus, Transmission, Testing
Deb shared some statistics with the group:
There are most likely a large number of cases that are unreported/undetected. One estimate is there are at least three times as many of these than reported/detected cases. Deb reminded us that we base many of our decisions on the number of cases, so being aware of this is important.
At the beginning of February, 11% of all Pennsylvanians had had an active COVID-19 infection.
Pennsylvania ranks third in the country in number of people recovered from the virus.
The US has had 500,000 deaths due the virus.
Deb reported that some experts are predicting a “Category 5 hurricane” of COVID-19 infections in about 6-14 weeks, due to the already known and emerging virus variants. No one is sure how long this would last.
The CDC is now recommending “double masking,” wearing a surgical mask underneath a cloth mask, which provides more protection than a single mask of either type.
Humidity seems to lower the potential of disease transmission. Home humidifiers may help.
Emerging research is showing that COVID-19 and other viruses, if contracted by someone, can increase the risk of that person developing an auto-immune disease-a disease caused by the body’s immune system attacking the body in some way.
The CDC has changed some recommendations for quarantine if a person is exposed to someone who has COVID-19. If someone has had both vaccine doses, they do not need to quarantine after exposure. However, if it is more than three months since the second dose, they should quarantine. At this point it is not known how the vaccine is effective past 3 months.
Deb is writing a short monthly blog for the church website. In January she discussed COVID-19 symptoms; February, the doubling masking recommendation; and for March, information about hand sanitizer use.
Vaccine Information and Issues
The Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which is in the process of being approved for emergency use, currently only requires one dose. The company is reporting they may consider changing it to 2 doses because of the emerging variants.
Even with vaccines now being given, it will be a while until we get back to “normal.” Dr. Fauci from the CDC is predicting mask wearing and other measures continuing through 2022.
There had been discussion about giving as many people as possible the first dose of the vaccine, which would lengthen the time from the 3 week (Pfizer) or 4 week (Moderna) recommended dose interval-the idea being that more people would have at least some protection, if not full protection. The vaccines were only studied to provide the 2 doses at the recommended intervals. The decision has been made in the US to provide the injections at the recommended intervals.
More research needs to be done on whether or not this vaccine will need to be given yearly, like the flu vaccine. Also, like the flu vaccine, it will most likely be reformulated as new variants emerge.
Even if someone has had COVID-19, the recommendation is for them to still be vaccinated.
Deb emphasized that what we have done so far and are still doing is following “best practices.”
Deb is planning to do a walk through at the building in the next several weeks to see what has been done and what still needs to be done, and to develop guidelines and frequencies for the sexton for cleaning and sanitation.
When building use resumes, Brenda Hensel Shue, who works for Bailey’s (the company who does sanitizing) will teach us how to perform the sanitation-that way we will only need to pay for materials and supplies. We will need to have a team willing to do this. The estimate is the process will take about 60-90 minutes.
Deb congratulated and thanked the group and others for being creative to meet current and future needs.
Even when we develop a plan for return to indoor, in-person worship, we will need to be flexible and base any actions on current needs.
Air quality and air exchange is one of the most critical factors. As weather allows, we can open the windows for sanctuary/upstairs use, but the basement only has minimal air exchange at best.