As infections from the COVID-19 coronavirus spread, it is important that we have information on how to prepare for and prevent this disease in our community and congregation. There is information about COVID-19 everywhere; two excellent resources are a recent New York Times podcast, and this article. At this point in time, with active cases in Rhode Island and now Massachusetts, it seems clear that coronavirus will to some extent affect our community directly. This virus is most dangerous for elders and people with compromised lungs and immune systems.
A task group with representatives from the Board (Chuck F.; Dan G.), Staff (Rev. Susanne; Katie, DRE), Property (Kelly W.; Gerry M.), Safety Team (Jim D.), Community Engagement, and Worship is now forming. We are tasked with caring for the emotional and physical safety of our congregation, with our priority being our most vulnerable members. Mary Beth G., former chair of Fellowship, has also been asked to join.We will be the team that offers communication and direction in the event that this pandemic spreads throughout Massachusetts.
All of us–staff, leaders, and congregation members need to take part in the response to this virus. As one journalist wrote in the Scientific American: “Preparing for the almost inevitable global spread of this virus…is one of the most pro-social, altruistic things you can do in response to potential disruptions of this kind.”
What You Can Do
So as we go forward, here are a few things all MUUC folks can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our communities and congregation:
- “Don’t work sick, don’t school sick, don’t church sick.” If you are sick, or a family member is sick, please stay home. We know this virus is most dangerous to our elders and those with compromised lungs or immune systems, so please think of them–even if you feel “good enough” to go out. Needing to stay home if sick also applies to staff. If there is a quarantine of some sort put in place, staff may need to work from home for an extended period of time.
- Please reach out to [email protected] or others to let us know if you or someone you know is sick! We don’t want to share germs, but we also don’t want folks to feel lonely. There are a lot of ways we can stay in touch.
- Wash your hands, clean often-used surfaces like doorknobs and phones, avoid shaking hands, cough into your elbow…all the things we can do to wash away germs and not share them with others. More basic tips are in The Scientific American.
- Let us know if you have trouble stocking up on food and medical supplies or paying for medical care, or if staying home from work becomes a financial emergency. The Minister’s Discretionary Fund is here to help.
- Useful tips from the CDC, with regards to pandemic: Planning Tip Sheet What to Expect
If the Massachusetts Department of Health and/or our Governor ask us to avoid large gatherings, we may need to move our worship and meetings to online. Minister, staff, and lay leaders may use interactive social media, pre-recorded videos, or other methods to continue the work and worship of the congregation. We will announce to the congregation via the website, newsletter, and Facebook if we need to begin these precautions. Share your ideas with us, and please support us as we figure out how to serve our mission in the face of this challenge.
If you are feeling anxious about all of this – and everything else that is going on in the world – you are not alone. Please reach out to us, connect, and stay in touch. We are not alone, and we can support each other through this time.
Rev. Susanne Intriligator, [email protected]
Chuck Foley, president, [email protected]