As we continue to walk together in this journey of emergence, your church leadership continues our faithful evaluation of the latest scientific data and public health recommendations. Your Covid-19 Action Team met on October 27th to consider how to support in-person worship in Advent and Christmas. Look for more information in the weekly email. In the meantime, we wanted to share some things we’re feeling hopeful about:
- Average new cases in King County are on a declining trend since mid-September. The level of community transmission in Seattle is still substantial, but is down from the “high level” of transmission that we saw six weeks ago.
- Free testing is still widely available in Seattle.
- Vaccine requirements continue to increase, with employers stepping up to enforce this in workplaces, and large events requiring proof of vaccination or a recent negative test to attend.
- Pfizer booster shots are available for people 65 and older who got their vaccine 6+ months ago and those with underlying medical conditions.
- Recent analysis, published last week in the New York Times, suggests that risks of serious illness and hospitalization of unvaccinated kids is lower than the risk for vaccinated adults over 60.
- The FDA is meeting next week and could authorize the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 5-11 soon. Seattle has a robust infrastructure to handle the logistics of getting kids vaccinated as soon as the “okay” has been given.
- Covid-19 treatments are in clinical trials and are looking very effective. These antiviral medications aim to block the virus from replicating. Unlike a vaccine, these treatments aren’t impacted by new variants and will be an important tool in shifting this from a pandemic to an endemic.
As we head into colder and wetter weather (and as some plan for holiday travel) there are concerns about increased transmission as outdoor events become less realistic. Here are some things you can do:
- Consider purchasing some rapid at-home antigen tests for your medicine cabinet. You can use these before vising someone who is more vulnerable, before or after traveling, if you or a loved one starts to feel unwell, or after attending an event where you can’t easily control for distance, air quality, or how well other folks are masking. A lot of at-home antigen tests are on backorder, so consider ordering some before you need them.
- Take advantage of free local testing! There is usually a 1-2 day delay in getting results, but our robust local testing infrastructure is a resource that we are privileged to take advantage of.
- Get a better mask. Not every circumstance warrants an N-95, but make sure your mask fits snugly against your face and chin, with no gaps around the nose and mouth. Many cloth masks have an option to add a filter, or, you can layer a cloth mask with a disposable medical mask.
- To reduce your risk of exposure, pay attention to distance and duration. If you’re at an event where you must be close to others, try to keep that contact as short as possible. If you’re able to distance from others, then the length of time is not as big of a concern. If you are close to others for a longer duration, the quality and effectiveness of your mask becomes even more important.