On the Delta Variant
Beloved in Christ,
As COVID-19 cases begin to climb again in many parts of the country, and we learn more about the delta variant driving the latest surge, we are reminded that while we are in the late stages of the pandemic, it is still very much with us. The CDC earlier this week renewed its recommendation that people wear masks when indoors in areas with high rates of infection. What is known is that even vaccinated individuals can both contract and transmit the delta variant, even as the symptoms and severity of the disease can be lessened by vaccinations.
In ECMN, the decisions about whether and how best to worship in person remain with the canonical leadership of local congregations. However, I encourage you to resume masking indoors, especially in congregations where there are many children who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated, where immunocompromised individuals are present, or wherever the vaccination status of attendees is unknown.
Masks are an easy way to contain the spread of COVID. However, masks will not move us fully out of the pandemic. What will help do that, as has been known for some time, is increasing the number of vaccinated people. If you are eligible and able to get vaccinated, please do so. If you are a congregational leader, please ask the members of your community to get vaccinated. The rates of vaccinations among eligible people in Minnesota and around the country have stalled in recent months, and the spread of misinformation about the safety, efficacy, and need for vaccination is a significant factor in people refusing it. I believe part of how we love and serve one another and the world around us is using our voice to help increase the number of vaccinations.
As you and your faith community continue to discern how to move forward in this strange time, I commend to you this Hybrid Gathering Guide, created by your missioners Rachel Babbitt and Emilia Seay Allen to support you and answer your hybrid questions and concerns.
I will continue to meet as needed with our building use task force, and communicate any updated guidance in as timely a manner as possible. As ever, I am deeply grateful for the extraordinary ways our faith communities have navigated this uniquely challenging season.
Grace and peace,
The Right Reverend Craig Loya
Episcopal Church in Minnesota