On Saturday, February 27, the St. Paul Area Synod sponsored what has become their annual “Tool Kit for Congregational Leaders.” The keynote speaker for this virtual event was Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota and a member of President Biden’s COVID – 19 Advisory Board. Monday morning’s email from the St. Paul Area Synod explained his talk as “… a robust conversation with Dr. Michael Osterholm, who shared an ominous prediction for challenging weeks yet to come due to coronavirus variants, pandemic fatigue and vaccine fears. He shared his thoughts on the importance of equitable vaccinations throughout the world, not only for humanitarian purposes, but also for pandemic-ending strategic purposes. Dr. Osterholm thanked church leaders for their important work, saying, "We need faith more than ever."
A few highlights we captured from the conversation:
- As of Saturday morning, it would take 18 days of non-stop reading of names to recognize all those who have been lost to COVID.
- The “variants” that we are hearing so much about are of concern. They appear to be more transmissible, may cause more severe illness in all age groups, and some may be able to evade the immune protection created by our bodies.
- There is concern over the “next surge” which is predicted to be seen beginning in mid March. His words: “We need to hold on again for 1 more time.” He is concerned that pandemic fatigue is causing people to become too relaxed and not heed this warning.
- The vaccines will help with all of these concerns. The vaccines will prevent the community from more serious illness and hospitalization. Any of the vaccines will do this.
- At this time, Dr. Osterholm strongly advocates for vaccination priority to go to ALL those 65 and older, and realizes that not everyone agrees with this.
- We need to work at vaccinating the whole world, not just the countries that have the means to get the job done.
- While some individuals may feel that some “freedoms” have been lost because of restrictions and protocols, Dr. Osterholm feels we have gained in humanity. Several times he asked, “How can we be kind to each other?”
- He also shared some interesting thoughts on when things might get back to “normal”…. whatever that may be, as well as touching on topics that dealt with travel, children’s activities, and behavior of vaccinated individuals and their adherence to protocols for the good of public health.
Dr. Osterholm’s conversation affirmed Faith’s current plan of operation, our plans for Easter, and for looking ahead to summer and beyond. If you are interested in listening to his entire conversation, this link will take you directly to the 45-minute talk and question/answer period.
Thank you Faith, for what you have done, what you are doing, and what you will do to be the good stewards of our community and the world through this pandemic!
Be Well, Faith!