As both Omicron and the winter/holiday surge are now in full-swing, please know church leadership continues to monitor and discuss our safety plans amongst our church family and with our Association, Conference, and National Church leadership.
We seek to balance safety with the realities of living with a virus that continues to mutate and develop in ways that we cannot control given the multitudes who continue to refuse to vaccinate and mask. It is a hard situation to navigate, but I can assure you we continue to do so faithfully.
Our congregation is doing an outstanding job of vaxxing, boosting, masking, distancing, staying home when feeling even slightly under the weather, and staying home if safety deems it important for their own family health needs which helps to keep our numbers down in the sanctuary.
Our use of filters in both buildings that match the CDC recommendation for MERV rating capable of filtering out the virus gives us an added level of comfort.
While the transmissibility of Omicron appears to be higher, it’s virulence (severity of illness it causes) appears to be less than that of both the Delta and Alpha variants, according to the latest research reports. That means it seems to come into communities fast but also leaves very quickly and is causing less serious illness and fewer hospitalizations than what we’ve seen in previous surges.
Some were speculating this surge would peek around January 9th nationally. What is important to note is that the numbers for smaller areas like Comal County tend to lag behind our neighbors by about 2-6 weeks. When numbers get high in Austin and San Antonio, for example, folks escape to the Hill Country to play and enjoy our rivers and cities, but then bring cases to us.
One of the numbers I watch most closely, along with my medical colleagues at the national level, is this site from the Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/coronavirus-covid-19/map/texas At this time, Comal County has approximately 37 cases per 100,000, below the trend in Texas and well below what most of the rest of the country is seeing right now.
We will continue to watch this number in the coming days and weeks, trust our Faith family to make decisions that feel right to them, follow what we know from the latest science and collective wisdom, and communicate if a decision needs to be made based on numbers to resume Zoom-only services for a period of time.
One thing we will ask is that all who attend be mindful to use surgical masks that are well-fitted, with no gaps, or KN95 masks. If you are using a cloth mask, please make certain it has a filter layer in addition to the two fabric layers and is also well-fitted.
We ask your prayers as we work to be good stewards of one another’s safety each day as we all seek solutions and wisdom in living with so many variables that are rapidly changing.