Pandemic Task Team Update: January 6, 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 6, 2022
Brothers and sisters in Christ,
As we enter this season of Epiphany, we are hopeful about the future because we know who holds it. We are also grateful for all those faith communities who discerned our continued recommendation to enlist collaborative leadership teams to serve with vigilance and insight. Your witness is a testament to our core values and how you continuously heed Jesus’ call to take care of His sheep. Thank you for your hard work and sacrifice to guide congregations through this pandemic. We want to celebrate you, so no matter the size of your team and its efforts, please let us know what you’re doing by sending an email with your church name and a brief summary of any information you’d like to share about your endeavors and those providing counsel for your congregation to email@example.com.
Almost two years after the beginning of the pandemic, we are battling the most highly transmissible variant yet—Omicron—but fear not, God is with us! We have more tools now than we did at the beginning of the pandemic, and additional medicines are progressing towards approved usage every day. In our quest to return to a pre-COVID restrictions reality, we need everyone’s help to reach that goal. Below are some practical recommendations for best practices in protecting yourself and your congregations:
- Masks: For optimum protection, use N95 and KN95 masks as they are the gold standard in face coverings. When properly worn with a snug fit over the nose and mouth, they block 99 percent of respiratory droplets. If that mask is not available to you, the second-best masks are surgical masks. We do not recommend the use of cloth masks as they do not offer protection from this variant. We do recommend that you encourage mask wearing for in-person services and activities regardless of vaccination status.
- Air filtration devices are additional tools available for your COVID-19 risk-minimization strategies.
- Meals: with the inherent exposure and growing transmission of COVID-19, the team still advises against gathering for meals at this time.
- Vaccination and testing: vaccination remains an essential shield of protection against the coronavirus. COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters are available at no cost to individuals ages five and older from county health departments, local pharmacies and healthcare providers across the state. Click here to find a vaccination provider near you. All Mississippians can be tested for COVID-19 free of charge at regularly scheduled county health department locations. Click here for information about testing locations and how to schedule getting a test.
- Latest CDC Guidance for exposure to or testing positive for COVID-19: Given what is currently known about COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, the CDC is shortening the recommended time for isolation for the public. Click here for a quick reference chart as well as a more detailed release about the shortened period recommendations.
- The Mississippi Conference Pandemic Task Team continues to support and strongly encourage faith communities and their pandemic response-focused collaborative leadership teams to adhere to the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH). We believe that the aforementioned expert guidance partnered with the awareness of your team’s local data and congregational context are the best tools to discern next steps for your faith community. With the Omicron variant impacting increasing infections, consider monitoring capacity when gathering in-person for worship, Sunday school, small groups, etc. and possibility adjusting as needed to reduce opportunities for crowds.
- Continue doing what we know works: sanitize hands often, practice social distancing indoors and wear a mask indoors around others.
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 Rev. Trey Skaggs
Rev. Haywood Hannah Mr. Cameron Cloud
Rev. Dr. Joe Ranager
Bishop James E. Swanson Sr. Rev. Vickie White
Rev. Dayna Goff Rev. Fred Britton
Miss Jasmine Haynes Mr. Mike Howington
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