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As I scrolled through my incredibly cluttered Gmail inbox last evening, my eyes fixed on a priority sender (namely my boss) and the subject line MLC Staff: Required Watching/Listening. The purpose of the forwarded email was to share a lengthy and roughly produced March 22 video interview of Dr. David Price of Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City. The NYC doctor is actively treating COVID-19 positive patients and talks at length at how to rationally protect yourself and your family members from getting COVID-19 and sustain healthy practices to ride the pandemic through.

In his e-mail, Pastor Scott shared his reasons for sending it to us on staff:

I am calling this “Required watching/listening” for you because 1.) I want to do whatever I can to help prevent you from getting this, and 2.) If you are like me,after watching this it will feel like some of the fetters have been loosed in the situation that surrounds us these days.  The message here is not, “Back to normal”, but for me, I felt like the reality surrounding us is much more manageable. 

Knowledge is power in this case.  Ignorance is not bliss when dealing with Covid.  Thank you for your diligence which has us all healthy now.  Let’s stay that way.

I am so thankful for each one of you, and you are in my prayers.  Those prayers for you are not only petitions asking God to protect and guide you, but also prayers of thanks and praise for you being God’s gift to so many, including me.  We need you healthy and serving to the glory of God.  

Pastor Scott said in his March 2020 newsletter column, “Lent will be different this year,” but I don’t think he ever predicted it would like this!

After viewing the video, I feel more informed and less anxious for the days and weeks that are ahead. I needed to hear close-to-the-ground facts on Covid-19 with no spin and no hysteria. When I replied to Pastor Scott asking if I could share it through social media, his response was, “Please do.”

So how are we dealing with Covid-19 at Messiah Lutheran Church?

We Don’t Touch Nuttin! Honestly, when I returned back to Madison on March 17, 2020, from two back-to-back trips (one to Minnesota, the next to Florida) I was concerned about how much I might have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus. Had I been vigilant enough at not touching common surfaces while on the airplane and in the airport? I prayed both Greg and I had. After-all, wherever we went in Florida, our disinfectant wipes came with us. We didn’t sit down at a table without wiping the arms and table off in front of us. If it was something that someone else could have touched, it didn’t get touched, or it got wiped off first. By the time we left, South Beach was closed, the Mayor of Miami had tested positive for Covid-19, and our restaurant server was holding the lunch menu in front of us waiting to take our order. Don’t touch anything that someone else has touched is one of Dr. Price’s key points. It felt good knowing we had taken the right precautions then, and we still take them.

We’re not wearing N95 masks. When Pastor Scott called us all to come in for a staff meeting that same day we got back (March 17) I did wear a N95 rated facemask. This was out of an abundance of caution considering where I’d been. Oh — and no hoarding here… I found the mask in our garage toolbox early that morning. I wasn’t at all symptomatic or ill, but since it could be spread by people who felt well, decided it wasn’t going to be me who spread Covid-19 to my beloved colleagues or community at MLC. We gathered “physical distance style” in the Parish Hall, each of us at our own round disinfected table. It was clear we all were focused on protecting one another in order to stay healthy so we can serve the church family we love. Dr. Price addresses the types of masks, and what types are needed where and when. Since I continue to show no sign of illness, I’ve stopped wearing my N95 mask. After hearing his remarks on homemade masks (47:20) it does make me want to get out my sewing machine and make a mask to remind me to not touch my face! For others, wearing gloves is a big deterrent to prevent touching one’s face.

We’re avoiding Covid-19 by keeping MLC’s social group small (see 17:39 in the video) This keeps our church facility cleaner, too. We don’t want you in church right now. What a crazy sentence to write. The fewer people in and out of MLC’s front doors, the less likely we on staff will be exposed to something brought in. There are the same handful of us recording services and we always practice physical distancing when we do. Another encouraging segment of the doctor’s interview is that while the Covid-19 virus is dangerous when spread, it doesn’t take much to kill it. We have from March 16th established clear wipe down procedures for any and all shared workspaces and devices. We are also grateful for our custodian, Julie, who continues to clean MLC’s facility twice weekly. Julie is using this time to deep sanitize all areas. This week she sanitized and vacuumed the Sanctuary pews. She told me her next project was a good deep clean of the Parish Hall kitchen floors. When we are able to gather again at MLC, you can have confidence that it has had a very deep spring cleaning!

God has given each of unique talents and gifts to use to help others. I am grateful to God for men and women like Dr. Price, and all who are working in medical fields, medical research, and medical facilities. I pray that they are able to maintain their safety, health, and strength in all their endeavors to help us all get through these strange times.

I do so miss the way things were at Messiah before my travels to Minnesota and Florida and this Covid-19 pandemic reached our community. I hope and pray that watching this video will help inform you as to what steps you can take to keep it from reaching your doorstep and loved ones. Things will be different for a while, but I think after watching this video, you’ll agree it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s just a few simple steps to take. Please take them. Stay well. All of here on staff at MLC care for and miss you very much.

*Authors note: The Covid-19 situation is ongoing. What I’ve shared in this post are comments based on information available to the author at the time of posting. Please continue to stay informed and up to date of Covid-19 by visiting official sources of information such as those at the CDC

Pass the Peace!