FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 10, 2021
Brothers and sisters in Christ,
First, we want to express our gratitude for all those working in healthcare whether in clinics and hospitals, or those making sure vaccines get in arms—we honor your service. Mississippi is steadily increasing in allotment of vaccine quantities and growing the amount of community partnerships there are to distribute them. According to the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH), Walmart is offering vaccines at 31 locations across the state. The vaccines coming to those locations are federally allocated and will be in addition to the average amount that is distributed at the drive-thru vaccination sites around the state. Click here to schedule receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. You’ll have to create an account if you don’t have one, search by location and then schedule an appointment. You can also click here to view state drive-thru sites’ vaccine availability. The state department now has a dedicated line for those who are elderly and without the digital devices and/or technological knowhow to register online. Call 877.978.6453 and listen for the prompts. We encourage everyone to pursue getting vaccinated, especially if you are in a vulnerable population like the elderly, or you are a care giver for an elderly person. After you receive both shots, it is still necessary to continue wearing masks and practicing social distancing.
In a recent press conference, state health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs recommended that everyone continue social distancing and avoid large gatherings. Dobbs also reiterated the need to keep sanitizing hands and practice the proper wearing of a mask, which is making sure it covers both your nose and mouth. The pandemic task team is in agreement with these recommendations. Additionally, the team would like to reiterate our early guidance to pursue collaborative leadership and form a team that would regularly evaluate your congregation’s membership size, demographics, vulnerable attendees, surrounding community’s data and other ministry contexts that may play a role in your faith communities’ adaptation of this team’s recommendations. Always prioritize science-based data in your decisions. For example, there is public data on COVID-19 test positivity rates in nursing homes in counties across the United States that is published weekly. The counties that have less than five percent test positivity rate are classified as green. The counties with between a five and 10 percent test positivity rate are classified as yellow. Counties with above 10 percent test positivity are classified as red. From this example, red can be the threshold to stop in-person worship and gatherings and yellow and green are classifications where you decide how cautiously you want to proceed with in-person worship.
How You Can Help
Even in a global pandemic, children of God—The Mission Continues. Opportunities abound all around us to utilize tech savvy and vehicle-owning parishioners from a plethora of church sizes, cultural contexts and ages to serve vulnerable or underserved populations. Congregations, Sunday school classes, youth groups and the like can enlist volunteers to help those with little to no access to the web register for a COVID-19 vaccine, or help take someone with no means of transportation to a drive-thru vaccination site.
"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ,"
Praying that your soul prospers as your health prospers,
The Mississippi Conference Pandemic Task Team
Dr. Marcus Gaut Dr. Bob Ford
Dr. Steve Shirley Dr. Thais Walden
Mrs. Lynette Harris Mrs. Sarah King
Rev. Haywood Hannah Rev. Trey Skaggs
Rev. Dr. Joe Ranager Mrs. Jamie Beatty
Mr. Cameron Cloud
Bishop James E. Swanson Sr. Rev. Vickie White
Rev. Dayna Goff Rev. Fred Britton
Miss Jasmine Haynes Mr. Mike Howington