By Garry M. Spotts
Holding yourself together in times where it appears that everything is falling apart can be difficult. When you add the stress of isolation and loneliness to the other immense pressures we experience within and without, you create a volatile situation. Many people feel it, the haunting potential of infection and the resulting illness that may end in death and, if not death, continuing health problems.
The Pandemic of 2019-2020 has created a specter lurking in the shadows, hanging over our lives, homes, and loved ones. There are incidental sicknesses that overtake everyone in the country during times such as these. Ignorance, Stupidity, Fear, and Inaction are the collateral dangers in dangerous times.
We live in such a time. All four of these have shown up with Covid-19. Right now, in the middle of a U.S. Surge that threatens more lives, the anxiety factor has exploded upward with the infection and mortality rates. Add to the Covid-19 Crisis the critical failure of representative government to govern with integrity and attention to the citizens’ and nation’s needs.
Most people know someone they care about who is infected with Covid-19. The potential loss of that life creates a spiral of doubt and concern that can be disarming and disturbing. There is news reporting that the virus disproportionately impacts Black and Brown people at a rate of 4 to 1 in the U.S. According to the CDC, the rate of hospitalization for Black people is 4.7x that of white America. The rate for “Brown” Hispanic Latino and Native American peoples is as much as 4.6x and 5.3x, respectively, that of the whites. See the table below:
The challenge is great, and the burden is heavier on Black and Brown people in the U.S. The key to turning the tide is education and practice. Education must be ramped up by institutions that are trusted by the communities most affected by the Pandemic. As the 3rd wave of spiking infections washes over the nation, it is imperative that the church and other trusted agents in our communities teach, preach, and sound the alarm.
Beyond the critical need for education, practice is important. To teach me how to be safe without my commitment to practice safety is a waste of human capital. If we choose not to practice safety, we guarantee that more will suffer infections, more will die, and more families will suffer the insult of our stupidity.
According to Pastor Bartholomew Orr of Brown Missionary Baptist Church in Southaven, MS, he has performed 50% more funerals to this point in 2020 than those in 2019.
Conventional wisdom should apply here. The loss of life is avoidable in many cases. The correct use of the knowledge we have is all the wisdom we need until a viable and safe vaccine to help eradicate Covid-19. The challenge is to do our part.
Here are a few recommendations for churches:
Form a telephone tree, Goggle Duo, or an Apple Face Time network to regularly, if not daily, check on the most vulnerable members of our congregations.
Check with members to see if they have essentials such as hand sanitizer, masks (disposable or reusable), and follow the simple safety guidelines that battle the transmission of infection.
Encourage members to only allow people into their space who are wearing face coverings. Make this rule apply to family members who we tend to trust and let our guard down around.
Offer simple solutions on your website, app, or in print about how to keep your living and workspaces clean, disinfected, and safer to occupy.
Most importantly, Now is not the time to allow others to speak louder for our people’s safety and security than we do for them. Pastors and ministry leaders must be front and center in the ear of their members and the community of people who live in the shadow of their churches.