News continues to come fast and furious about the development of COVID-19 pandemic, and the omicron variant. Information differences from around the world and sometimes unreliable news sources have begun to cause concern, worry, and even exhaustion at a pandemic that just won't seem to end.
Just before Christmas, we saw in BC a marked spike in positive case results and a challenge with testing capacity, coupled with uncertainty about the health impacts of omicron on us. While in some ways we are still in unknown territory regarding omicron, one thing remains clear, that it remains our Christian witness to the world to be stewards of a safe community for all of God’s children. Part of that meant that we had to close for Christmas to keep us all safe, which was a very hard decision to make.
Since the initial decision, the health authority has changed how it is making risk assessments regarding the omicron variant. Previously it was about positive cases primarily, with hospital and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) admissions secondary. Now, given the challenges to testing capacity among others, the metric being seen as more indicative of omicron risks to the community are hospitalizations and ICU admits. Why the change? Because we are trying to avoid a surge of patients on our already stretched out healthcare system, which a highly transmittable variant like Omicron could cause.
But what does this have to do with us, the church, and why we are still closed? Can’t we just reopen with all the safety we had before?
What we know so far is that:
- While not astronomical, the hospitalizations and ICU admits are climbing up.
- Many of us are just starting to book our booster appointments, and some are still waiting for appointments.
- There is not a huge amount of scientific evidence regarding the severity of Omicron, most of what we are hearing so far are anecdotes of the virus which are varied.
- Aerosols produced while speaking and singing are the highest risk factors for transmission. All of which are part of what makes church, church. We are a people of spoken story and song, it's how we make meaning with our lives, which continues to be a risk without more scientific study of omicrons impact on our health.
Your leaderships, the Wardens and Vicar, are continuing to monitor the provincial health authority orders, scientific reports and news conferences, while conferring with colleagues across the diocese to listen for what the Spirit and science are telling us about reopening. Part of that listening also includes you. We want to hear your opinion via this short survey below about what reopening means for you.