A number of developments in the pandemic have taken place recently. On the hopeful side, King County is now in Phase 3. People ages 60-64 will become eligible for vaccinations beginning March 31. And President Biden is urging all states to make everybody eligible for vaccination by the end of May.
Phase 3 is the step we've been waiting for: it's time to get serious about our reopening plans. The new Reopening Task Force will meet for the first time this Thursday night to come to an understanding of the scope of our work, which will begin in earnest during Easter season. The task force consists of Paul Dimick, Jim Donahe, Simon Drake, Cheryl Kosky, Karen White, and myself. If you have any input you'd like me to share with them, please let me know or speak with one of them.
If you are a regular Good Shepherd attendee, please fill out this form once you are vaccinated to let us know when this took place. The overall percentage of fully vaccinated parishioners is a statistic that will help be helpful to the Reopening Task Force. As I write this, 17% of our active members report being fully vaccinated (vaccination date + two weeks), and that number will be at least 25% two weeks from now. But we don't know about you if you don't tell us.
Are you having trouble finding a vaccination site? Use this state-provided locator tool. And if the technological hurdle of signing up proves to be too difficult, don't stay silent about it. Call Good Shepherd. We will find people to help you.
The hopeful developments must be tempered by a significant measure of caution. Consider the following factors:
- We don't know yet whether vaccinated people might continue to spread the virus. Please, even if you're vaccinated, keep up the masks and distancing.
- COVID-19 cases in King County are up 31% in the past two weeks, and Europe is experiencing a deadly third wave caused by the new British variant.
- Several states in the U.S. have carelessly removed all restrictions. I simply cannot understand this. It is foolish, shortsighted, and wrong, and many more people will die because of it.
- While vaccination rates within the U.S. are way ahead of goal, dozens of nations have received no vaccines at all. Without a concerted worldwide effort, the pandemic cannot truly end. The harsh reality is that we will be dealing with the coronavirus on some level for years to come.
That doesn't mean things must stay as they have been. It doesn't mean we can't reopen for in-person worship. But it does mean that I am counseling caution and patience and we work toward it.
So far, our congregation has been stellar about caution and patience. We are continuing to care for one another's well-being. Only recently have I begun to feel pressure from some of our folks to reopen. We will not do so irresponsibly.
I know what a toll this has taken on all of you. As we proceed, please remember that we're all on the same side here. No matter how isolated you feel, we cannot wish the pandemic away; we can only cope with it and do our part by getting vaccinated as soon as we are able. God is with us in our pain, fear, and loneliness, and God is revealed through the love of one another.