Daily Archives: March 13, 2020

(Stat News) Coronavirus testing is starting to get better — but it has a long way to go

The Roche case offers some encouragement: Brown said that the company started working on its new test last month, and finished the work in six weeks. Roche asked the FDA for emergency clearance earlier this week, and received it around the stroke of midnight Friday. As he announced a national emergency Friday afternoon, President Trump promised that testing capacity would eventually reach 5 million.

Testing serves two purposes. It can tell whether an individual person is sick. But it also acts as our way of knowing how bad the epidemic is, and where it is worst. Other types of technologies might help with the second part, if not the first. Blood tests that look to see if people have antibodies for SARS-CoV-2 –when they become available — can tell us how many people have had Covid-19. Next-generation DNA sequencing technologies could also play a role in monitoring it.

Through all this, the CDC and other health officials now need to follow an old maxim: Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Regulatory standards are important, and if the U.S. had organized its response sooner, getting the developers of diagnostic tests and major labs ready, there would have been time for an orderly process. But this is an emergency. And there is a need for speed.

Read it all.

Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology, The U.S. Government

(Local Paper) South Carolina officials identify 13th coronavirus case. Governor McMaster issues state of emergency

Gov. Henry McMaster has declared a state of emergency Friday and is requiring all schools in Kershaw and Lancaster counties to close in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Linda Bell, state epidemiologist, meanwhile, confirmed that the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control has confirmed an additional presumptive positive case of COVID-19, as the disease caused by the new virus is known, in the Kershaw County city of Camden.

The announcement brings South Carolina’s case total to 13.

Bell said that although there is no widespread transmission in South Carolina, DHEC expects to identify more coronavirus cases.

“At this time it is recommended for the majority of South Carolinians to continue their daily routines,” she said, adding that the public should follow basic hygiene precautions like hand washing, covering coughs and staying home if sick. “We are still learning about this virus and we are committed to keeping the public informed.”

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Education, Health & Medicine

(Church Times) Margaret Houston–Children are family at a church, not guests

While genuine conflicts do exist, and need working through with sensitivity, there is often a lack of welcome related to the presence of children: a child making minimal sounds — often related to what they see or hear in the service — is shushed; someone tuts at a child wriggling out of his or her seat to get a better look at the flowers and the altar where bread is being broken; initiatives to make worship more accessible to children are dismissed in PCC meetings without even being considered. Why is that?

Everyone brings unexamined assumptions with them to church: about what church is for, why children come, and whom church is for. Some assumptions may be based on adults’ childhood experiences. “There [can be] a sense of ‘I never had that freedom in church, so why should they?’” the Vicar of Lindley, in Huddersfield, Canon Rachel Firth, says.

“Extreme reactions either side, very pro or very against, usually have an emotional root,” one London-based church musician told me. Having originally been “very opposed” to introducing all-age worship in her church, she changed her mind — in part, having come to appreciate that the needs of all must be included in worship. “I can’t regard worship now as just something that I dip into and refresh from that has to suit me,” she said.

While acknowledging that not every part of every service would resonate with everyone, she said: “I have grown into loving these services. Perhaps a breakthrough was when it came over fully — or I understood better — that ‘all-age’ includes the grown and the old” as well as children.

The journey that she has gone on follows the unravelling of one of her own assumptions: that church is for adults, and that children are there as guests or observers.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Parish Ministry

A Quartz article on the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic that provides some important historical perspective

In 1918, the city of Philadelphia threw a parade that killed thousands of people. Ignoring warnings of influenza among soldiers preparing for World War I, the march to support the war effort drew 200,000 people who crammed together to watch the procession. Three days later, every bed in Philadelphia’s 31 hospitals was filled with sick and dying patients, infected by the Spanish flu.

By the end of the week, more than 4,500 were dead in an outbreak that would claim as many as 100 million people worldwide. By the time Philadelphia’s politicians closed down the city, it was too late.

A different story played out in St. Louis, just 900 miles away. Within two days of detecting its first cases among civilians, the city closed schools, playgrounds, libraries, courtrooms, and even churches. Work shifts were staggered and streetcar ridership was strictly limited. Public gatherings of more than 20 people were banned.

The extreme measures—now known as social distancing, which is being called for by global health agencies to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus—kept per capita flu-related deaths in St. Louis to less than half of those in Philadelphia, according to a 2007 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, History

A prayer for a pandemic by Cameron Wiggins Bellm

You may find out more about the author there.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Spirituality/Prayer

The Rector of Saint John’s, Johns Island, South Carolina writes his parish on ministry in the midst of the Coronavirus outbreak

March 12, 2020
Dear Saints of St. John’s,

Grace and Peace to you!

As to the spread of the corona virus Covid-19, the landscape has changed markedly over the last few days, and we would like to make you aware of some changes and concerns and postponements that we have authorized going forward. The World Health Organization has recently declared the corona virus Covid-19 a pandemic. That means that we are in a very different mode of combatting its spread than even a few days ago.

When I (Fr. Greg+) was in my early twenties and working as a Ranger at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, I had the occasion of working as a firefighter on a blaze that threatened the ranch. To my surprise, one of the most effective ways of stopping the fire was not the dousing of a blaze already raging (which could be fraught with danger to the firefighter), but was the building of fire-breaks, spaces cleared of burnable material away from the current blaze and in advance of the rapidly moving fire. Although the chopping down of trees and clearing of ground cover appeared destructive, it saved many more acres of forest than were destroyed in the clearing. This was not done out of fear, but out of wise and prudent management. What we are recommending, and mandating in some cases, are ways to build “fire-breaks” around the spread of the virus. And we do this not out of fear, but out of love of our brothers and sisters in Christ, especially those most vulnerable to the virus, and a love for all of humanity.

In light of rapidly changing health statistics relative to the spread and mortality of the virus, updates from ACNA, WHO, and other public health experts, Archbishop Foley Beach has issued this directive:
“Due to the possibility of the spread of the corona virus, those individuals over age 60 and anyone who is ‘immune compromised’ should consider worshiping at home on Sundays until further notice. Anyone with any symptoms of cold/flu should stay home and self-quarantine. Anyone who has traveled in any affected area of this country, or another country with an outbreak, must stay home and self-quarantine.”

Meetings on the Church Premises
Effective immediately, all Sunday School classes, bible studies, missions meetings, small groups, youth groups, ministry partners, etc. will no longer be meeting on the church premises. The only gatherings will be, at least for now, on Sunday mornings for worship. You will shortly be receiving instructions on how to meet virtually with your small groups. We encourage you to make every effort to meet together on-line, but not in person for the short term. Remember we are building a fire-break.

Sunday Worship
Until further notice, Holy Communion is now to be administered using the Bread only. All who handle and administer the bread and Body of Christ are to privately sanitize their hands before handling (following CDC recommendations on hand-washing), and are not to touch the face or mouth during the celebration or administration of Holy Communion. Again, we are not taking this step out of fear, but for solidarity in the Body of Christ and to respect the whole range of ethical decisions that each of us will have to make in regard to this.
The Passing of the Peace by physical contact is to be omitted. We are asking parishioners to greet one another with a wave of the hand or verbal greeting with no touch.
We will also not be passing the offering plate. The offering plates will be placed at the entrance to the church and we hope that all parishioners will continue to give generously during this time of great need.

Please stay tuned to what is being reported locally and in the state of South Carolina, in respect to the outbreak. Follow their guidelines. Remember, this is not about us; it is about caring for the sheep. Coronavirus.gov is where you stay updated from the CDC and the government recommendations to keep our people and families safe. If you are experiencing symptoms (runny nose, sore throat, cough, fever, or difficulty breathing) which are in concert with those of the corona virus, you can contact MUSC.care for a free telehealth assessment.
As from the beginning of this outbreak, one of the most effective ways of protecting yourself is by washing your hands thoroughly and covering your cough or sneeze when out in public. One parishioner has recommended that we all say the Lord’s Prayer (that takes about 20 seconds) as we wash our hands with soap and warm water.

Daily Pastoral Care Within the Body of Christ
One of our greatest concerns during this time of crisis and needful separation is the possible onset of a sense of isolation and/or depression. We do not want anyone to feel that they are alone. Please contact Fr. Greg (843-367-3342) or Fr. Jeremy (843-364-9381) if you just need to talk or have somebody pray with you. You can call us or send us text messages of particular prayer concerns, or we can even Facetime (see one another visually by phone) if that will help.
Walt Miller, our Community Pastor, is developing a phone care-list for pastoral care, so that everyone who is at risk can be contacted routinely to ensure that all are faring well during this crisis.
For those who are ‘immune compromised’ or just feel that it would not be wise for them to go out, we are setting up teams of people to shop for you or run errands for you, or drive you to a doctor’s appointment. You can contact Walt Miller (843-469-7105) if you need help in this regard. Please do not see this as an imposition…we bless God each time we exhibit the love and caring of the Body of Christ in this. We are indeed One Body.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

We love you and pray that this pandemic will lead to further strengthening of the Body of Christ and give all of us a strong desire to worship together, and make worship more central in our lives, once this crisis has passed.

–The Rev. Greg Snyder on behalf of the Clergy and Staff of St. John’s Parish Church

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry

(CT) What Martin Luther Teaches Us About Coronavirus

In 1527, less than 200 years after the Black Death killed about half the population of Europe, the plague re-emerged in Luther’s own town of Wittenberg and neighboring cities. In his letter “Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague,” the famous reformer weighs the responsibilities of ordinary citizens during contagion. His advice serves as a practical guide for Christians confronting infectious disease outbreaks today.

First, Luther argued that anyone who stands in a relationship of service to another has a vocational commitment not to flee. Those in ministry, he wrote, “must remain steadfast before the peril of death.” The sick and dying need a good shepherd who will strengthen and comfort them and administer the sacraments—lest they be denied the Eucharist before their passing. Public officials, including mayors and judges, are to stay and maintain civic order. Public servants, including city-sponsored physicians and police officers, must continue their professional duties. Even parents and guardians have vocational duties toward their children.

Luther did not limit tending the sick to health care professionals. In a time when Wuhan faces a shortage of hospital beds and personnel, his counsel is especially relevant. The city, one of China’s largest with a population of about 11 million, is in the process of rapidly constructing two new hospitals to accommodate growing crowds of coronavirus patients. Lay citizens, without any medical training, may find themselves in a position of providing care to the sick. Luther challenges Christians to see opportunities to tend to the sick as tending to Christ himself (Matt. 25:41–46). Out of love for God emerges the practice of love for neighbor.

But Luther does not encourage his readers to expose themselves recklessly to danger. His letter constantly straddles two competing goods: honoring the sanctity of one’s own life, and honoring the sanctity of those in need. Luther makes it clear that God gives humans a tendency toward self-protection and trusts that they will take care of their bodies (Eph. 5:29; 1 Cor. 12:21–26). “All of us,” he says, “have the responsibility of warding off this poison to the best of our ability because God has commanded us to care for the body.” He defends public health measures such as quarantines and seeking medical attention when available. In fact, Luther proposes that not to do so is to act recklessly. Just as God has gifted humans with their bodies, so too he has gifted the medicines of the earth.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Health & Medicine

A Prayer for the Feast Day of James Theodore Holly

Most gracious God, by the calling of thy servant James Theodore Holly thou gavest us our first bishop of African-American heritage. In his quest for life and freedom, he led thy people from bondage into a new land and established the Church in Haiti. Grant that, inspired by his testimony, we may overcome our prejudice and honor those whom thou callest from every family, language, people, and nation; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Edward Bouverie Pusey

Good Jesu, Who didst empty Thyself of Thine eternal glory and become a little child for love of me: empty me wholly of myself, and make me a little child, that I may love Thee wholly, as Thou didst love me infinitely.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Now the famine was severe in the land. And when they had eaten the grain which they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go again, buy us a little food.” But Judah said to him, “The man solemnly warned us, saying, ‘You shall not see my face, unless your brother is with you.’ If you will send our brother with us, we will go down and buy you food; but if you will not send him, we will not go down, for the man said to us, ‘You shall not see my face, unless your brother is with you.’” Israel said, “Why did you treat me so ill as to tell the man that you had another brother?” They replied, “The man questioned us carefully about ourselves and our kindred, saying, ‘Is your father still alive? Have you another brother?’ What we told him was in answer to these questions; could we in any way know that he would say, ‘Bring your brother down’?” And Judah said to Israel his father, “Send the lad with me, and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, both we and you and also our little ones. I will be surety for him; of my hand you shall require him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame for ever; for if we had not delayed, we would now have returned twice.”

Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be so, then do this: take some of the choice fruits of the land in your bags, and carry down to the man a present, a little balm and a little honey, gum, myrrh, pistachio nuts, and almonds. Take double the money with you; carry back with you the money that was returned in the mouth of your sacks; perhaps it was an oversight. Take also your brother, and arise, go again to the man; may God Almighty grant you mercy before the man, that he may send back your other brother and Benjamin. If I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.” So the men took the present, and they took double the money with them, and Benjamin; and they arose and went down to Egypt, and stood before Joseph.

–Genesis 43:1-15

Posted in Theology: Scripture