COVID’s Fine Line

By October 16, 2020

As you may know, after months of careful consideration of a myriad of factors, and in close consultation with local public health officials, we’ve decided to give in-person, indoor worship at First Church a try. (See the eblast announcement that went out this past week.)

And, even though we have worked diligently to develop and put into place a number of well thought out protocols in order to offer a safer in-person experience, it is important to remember that individual education, awareness, and responsible decision making is always going to be paramount in these COVID times.

Last week we shared the numbers and trends we are watching, along with local public health officials who are helping us interpret what these numbers mean. By keeping your own watch on Tarrant County COVID-19 Statistics dashboard, you, too, can monitor the key numbers behind our decision making, such as new case counts, hospitalization rates, and emergency room visits.

We also noted that monitoring one other key indicator of community spread known as the R0 (pronounced R-naught), tells us how fast cases are multiplying because it models the expected number of new cases that will result directly from each single case within our community.

When the R0 goes above 1.0, that means we’re having fast spread, and the results will show up over the following two months. Although the R0 has remained relatively stable lately at just under 1.0, public health officials are now expressing some concern that this number is rising and now sits slightly above 1.0 — at 1.1. We will continue to monitor this key indicator of community spread as well as CDC reports and public health guidelines.

The most important message is this:  in consultation with public health officials, we know that we have some of the most stringent safety protocols in the county. As long as everyone follows all the protocols, we can have limited in-person worship safely with a lower chance of transmission. However, please keep in mind that even with our stringent protocols in place, First Church leadership may choose to stop in-person worship again if the county trends continue in this upward trajectory. This is a decision to be made week-to-week, in consultation with our public health officials.

In the continued fine line we’re walking between making in-person worship church accessible for those who are comfortable with it and continuing to model good community partnership, we are so grateful to our First Church family and the “can-do” spirit that keeps us engaged and connected, whether we worship together online, in-person, or any combination of the two!

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