oak grove sanctuary

Jan 6 ReEntry Team Update

Re-Entry Team Update, January 6, 2022

The January surge of Covid cases, due to the omicron variant and anticipated by medical experts, is now apparent. Cases in Hennepin county have  almost doubled in the last week, and are at the highest rate ever seen in the last 2 years. This pattern is reflective of the rest of the country. While the rate of infection is alarming, and additional protocols (outlined below) are necessary, there is also some good news as experts are learning more about the omicron variant. First and foremost, vaccines are still effective against serious illness and death. It is highly recommended, if eligible, to get vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible. The FDA & CDC on Wednesday night just approved boosters for anyone 12 years old and above and most estimates are that vaccines for those under 5 will be available by summer. Second, omicron, while extremely contagious does not appear to be as severe as previous variants. Third, while there is currently a short supply in antigen test availability, more supply will be coming soon. In addition, new antiviral pills to reduce severity of symptoms for those with Covid have been approved and are being produced at a rapid rate. Finally, there seems to be evidence that the omicron wave will not be lengthy, and many experts are hoping it peaks in 4 to 6 weeks.

While there is much good news and hope for optimism, it is also true that there are other signs to proceed with caution and to work to flatten the curve of the current spike as much as possible. As children (many of whom are not yet eligible to be vaccinated or have not yet received a vaccination) return to school there has been an increase in pediatric cases and hospitalizations. Hospitals are under immense stress and ICU’s in the area are almost full. While omicron is less severe, because many more people are getting infected, there are high numbers of hospitalizations and there is still a risk of hospitals not being able to handle the spike. In addition, there are more breakthrough infections (those fully vaccinated and/or boosted getting infected) with the omicron variant. Because of these breakthrough infections of hospital staff, the capacity for hospitals to respond to the current situation is diminished. We have also begun to see disruptions in air travel, first responders, food supply, and education because of staff shortages due to illness. 

With all of this in mind, we are implementing the following changes for the month of January:

  • In-person worship will now be limited to 20 people (not including leadership and tech support)
    • Only vaccinated individuals may attend, and it is strongly recommended that people be boosted as well
    • It is important that you reserve a spot by using the link on the website or by calling the church office
    • Masks are required, and KN95, N95, or both a surgical mask under a cloth mask are highly recommended
    • We encourage anyone who may be immune compromised or who lives with someone who is, not to attend in-person for now
  • No small group meetings should meet in person and should meet virtually
  • If it is not possible to meet virtually, we strongly recommend you postpone your meeting for the month of January.

As before, this has not been an easy choice and we are disappointed that we must continue to adapt and that the pandemic is still disrupting our lives. We believe this is the best way for us to be good neighbors and to not contribute to the spike as we seek to love one another and to support our educators, first responders, hospital and emergency workers, and the most vulnerable among us. We will reassess where we are toward the end of January and continue to keep the congregation informed of plans. Feel free to contact any member of the re-entry team if you have any questions or need further clarification. Anne Klueh, Al Greimel, Bev Heise, Jane Propsom, Pastor Mary, and Pastor Bart.