“Déjà vu” describes that uncanny sensation that you’ve already experienced something. I had this feeling last weekend when I learned the CDC had revised their guidelines and was now advising that people resume the wearing of masks when indoors in areas of high Covid transmission. The local numbers are not encouraging and give support to the new caution. Saint Anthony’s hospital in Shawnee is full. New patients are being kept in the Emergency Room.
In the midst of all this there is the potential for good news. Our friends in the United Kingdom experienced a similar second wave of Covid at the beginning of the summer and it only lasted a few weeks there. Hopefully it will pass quickly here as well. Time will tell. Despite some scary headlines we are NOT back to square one. We have learned so much and have so many tools like new treatments, like vaccines at our disposal. Another piece of good news is that (as of this past Monday) the “break-through,” infection rate in our county was only 0.8%, which means the odds of a vaccinated person experiencing an infection and then spreading Covid are still very very low. In the meantime, we must move forward based on what we know, our local situation and the best information we can find. The big unknown in all of this is school. As a parent I am personally 100% behind the return to in-person school. But at the same time, I understand that the return of students to school could greatly impact our city and county infection rates which are already bad. So, given that the odds of transmission are still very low and that the trends in other countries point to this being a short second wave, we are going to hope for the best, but proceed with caution. On Sunday August 15th, which is the Sunday after Shawnee Public school resumes, we will be asking the congregation to mask up again at Emmanuel for the 9:30 and 11 am services. I am only going to ask you to mask up on Sunday August 15th, 22nd and 29th. During these three weeks we will also move our coffee hour to the patio around the playground. Over this time, we will be watching the numbers and if the situation improves, we will once again be mask-less (of course at your own discretion) on Sunday September 5th. If the situation gets worse we will extend masking for two extra weeks and continue to evaluate thereafter on a bi-weekly basis. In conclusion, I thank you for your grace and patience in advance for me and for our Wardens as we move through this time. We have no desire to make any political statements or wade into any arguments with these decisions. We just want to keep our church open and we want to do our best to keep people who attend safe. We will not let our actions be directed by fear, but we also must act responsibly with the information we have, prayerful that we are being faithful to the trust placed in us by our parish. Fr. Tom +  The 8 am service is a small group and it is a spoken service that is naturally spread out so the same level of caution does not seem warranted at this time.