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COVID-19 PREPAREDNESS AND SAFETY

The following was a presentation made by the Rev. Donna F.G. Hailson in a worship service on March 15, 2020 at the Cape Neddick Baptist Church in Maine. Some updates were added on March 17. It is being posted on this site because the web host, used by the church, is not functioning properly today. I thought perhaps locals and others might be interested in what is contained therein.

Four Purposes this morning:

  • Sharing the most accurate and up-to-date information
  • Offering reassurances of the Lord’s care for us
  • Making certain we’re doing all we can and should be doing for each other
  • Spending time together in prayer

COVID-19 is a new coronavirus that was first detected in December 2019 in Wuhan City, China and has now been detected in other countries including the United States. It is spread in the air via coughing or sneezing; close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands, or touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes. For some, the respiratory virus causes mild symptoms like the common cold or influenza (flu), for others it can cause severe pneumonia that requires medical care or hospitalization. The concerns are greater for COVID-19 because it is a novel virus which, physicians tell us, means no one has antibodies to it because no one has been infected by it before…We must flatten the curve. That means we need to slow the rate of infection so that the number of people who need hospital services remain in the range within which our health care system can manage.
Prepare:
Know the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 (the following may appear 2-14 days after exposure):

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Emergency signs:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to rouse
  • Bluish lips and face

As of March 13:
No confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maine. Two presumptive positives (awaiting confirmation from the CDC). 91 negative tests. 17 pending.
As of March 16 (at 11 a.m.):
Eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maine (Counties: Androscoggin, Cumberland, Knox and Lincoln). Nine presumptive positives; 764  negatives.

As of March 17: 23 confirmed cases and 9 presumptive positives. The latter tests were done by non-governmental labs and are awaiting confirmation from the Maine Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory. 


York Hospital will continue delivering meals to their regular clients. The YCSA is continuing to keep the food pantry open, but rather than have 35 people in the space at once, they are limiting the number of folks who may go in at a time. (All are still being served.) They are also continuing to deliver food to those families the pantry has already been serving. The Table of Plenty at First Parish is continuing to serve dinner.

York County Emergency Management has opened an Emergency Operations Center to monitor the situation.


Personal:
Stay at home and/or avoid public places when you are sick.
Cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing (Cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hand).
Stay six-ten feet away from a person who is ill.
Avoid sharing drinks. Avoid utensils or objects that may transmit saliva.
Call your health care provider in advance of a visit.
Limit movement in the community (social distancing).
Limit visitors.
Wash your hands and avoid touching your face.
Disinfect frequently touched surfaces with bleach, isopropyl alcohol, Lysol…
Have on hand a two- to four-week supply of prescription and over the counter medications (including decongestants, anti-inflammatory drugs…), food, and other essentials. Know how to get food delivered if the service is available in your area.
Have a first aid kit, flashlight, and space blanket and/or sleeping bag in your car.
Call, text, or email others to check on their state of wellness.

Further Mitigation Measures (with some repeats added for emphasis):
Support your schools’ decisions to close: Proactive school closings save more lives than reactive school closings.

  • Six feet: The COVID-19 virus spreads through droplets. These can move six feet before gravity brings them to earth.  Stay six feet away from people if you need to go outside.
  • Meticulous hand washing: Wash thoroughly and wash often. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer works well if your hands are otherwise clean.
  • Do not touch your face. This is hard. This is a learned skill: Practice often.
  • Clean doorknobs, toilets, cellphones, countertops, refrigerator handles, and so on many times each day. The virus could live on certain surfaces for 4-72 hours.
  • If you can work from home, work from home.
  • No tournaments, no sporting events, no parties…
  • Cancel vacation and business travel.
  • If you are over 60 years old, stay home. Go out only if there is a critical need.
  • Do not congregate in restaurants or bars…
  • Anticipate supply chain issues: work with your doctor to secure a three-month supply of medication. 
  • Many grocery stores have order-ahead options with either pick up or delivery. There are online grocery delivery services available in many areas. Wash your hands thoroughly after unpacking groceries.


CNBC and other churches:
First Parish in York, Bethany, and Temple Israel in Portsmouth have cancelled services for this morning (March 15). The Catholic Diocese of Portland has cancelled or postponed all large gatherings in their churches for the next 30 days.
Only one ABCOM church (American Baptist Churches of Maine) has cancelled worship services today.
No handshakes or hugs this morning. Greet one another with a smile and an air elbow bump or foot bumps.
The offering plate will not be passed so as to avoid touching the surface. You’ll find the plate on the table at the rear of the sanctuary should you wish to leave an offering.
We will not have refreshments after worship as we are advised to avoid self-service.
The Pastor will not be leading a devotional service at Durgin Pines next Wednesday as visitation is now restricted. Visitation is also restricted, until further notice, at Sentry Hill.
The Pastor is keeping in contact with local and regional authorities as well as other pastors in the area and across the country and will provide updates as necessary via email, texts, and calls.

Questions (with answers from Sunday’s worship service):
It was agreed that the Pastor should serve as point person in gathering information, tracking updates and keeping the congregation informed. Depending on developments over the next few days, she’ll decide whether to cancel Sunday services on March 22 and forward and will notify the congregation. The Sunday Study, Midweek Study and all other activities have been cancelled for the time being.
The Pastor has been in contact with all but a handful of people in the congregation. She will continue to reach out to everyone over the coming days. All those contacted say they have sufficient food and medications on hand so no grocery or pharmacy runs are needed.

Helpful Websites:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
Maine.gov (Division of Disease Surveillance)
https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/epi/airborne/coronavirus.shtml

The National Day of Prayer announcement was read with its references to 1Peter 5:7 (“Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you”); Psalm 91 (“He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him will I trust”) and Luke 1:37 (“For with God, nothing shall be impossible”).
The Pastor also read the following:
When Martin Luther was dealing with the plague (the Black Death), he wrote these wise words that can help inform the way we approach things happening in our world right now:
“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance to inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, He will surely find me, and I have done what He has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”

In her sermon, the Pastor encouraged folks to spend the days ahead centering on the Lord who loves us; contemplating the book of Philippians (and especially verses 4:4-7 and 11b-13); praying in our own personal “garths;” engaging in “palms down, palms up” meditation; and keeping in mind these words: “Anxious about Nothing. Prayerful Every Day. Thankful for Everything. Peace.” Our family of faith joined together in corporate prayer, sang the praises of God, and gave thanks for one another and our living Lord.