covid-19 update (8/26/2021)

Greetings HP Family,

We can't wait to worship with you Sunday as we ask a big question: "Is your faith growing?"

We’ve been paying attention to the Covid cases and hospitalizations in our area. On July 6th, Tulsa had 59 Covid patients hospitalized. Ten days later we had 140. Today we have 480.

On July 6th, Oklahoma had 2201 active cases. Ten days later we had 4425. Today we have 21,584.

As we have from the beginning, we’re reading the raw data, hearing from medical professionals from our church and community, conferring with the Tulsa Health Department, and asking our Pandemic Response Team for guidance.

The Delta Variant spreads more easily and is more dangerous to younger and previously-healthy populations. Especially concerning are the 64 kids in our state who are hospitalized with Covid. I saw a video of a child on the ECMO machine. It was brutal to watch. We’re thankful that the child and teen from our church family who recently contracted it did not require hospitalization. The family of the child told us that the sickness was very tough. The teenager stayed in bed for a week & a half. Several HP adults have also battled the virus. As far as we know, we’ve not had transmissions through church activities. We’d like to keep it that way.  

We now also have firsthand stories of folks being told that a local hospital does not have room for them. Obviously, this fluctuates, but it means our systems are stressed. Our healthcare professional are also stressed. I spoke with three HP folks last week. The toll this pandemic is taking on them should not be underestimated. Pray and care for these friends.

We now know that those who are vaccinated are way less apt to contract the virus, less apt to spread it, even less apt to be hospitalized by it, and even less apt to be killed by it. Those who have been previously infected are also usually protected for at least several months, although we’re still learning more and more about this. We also know that no child under twelve has been vaccinated, so we have a large, vulnerable population.

As a church, we relaxed policies several months ago once current cases and hospitalizations fell to low levels and most people had gotten the vaccination if they wanted it (although some continue to weigh those options). We realize some did not or could not do so. We encourage you to talk to your Doctor about questions you may have. And we’re glad to visit with you if you have ethical or spiritual questions.

With kids back to school, there are lots of unknowns. We deeply hope that the current variant will subside, but we recognize the possibility that schools will be hit hard. Because so much is uncertain for the next few weeks, and because of our desire to love each other and our neighbors well:

  1. Please don’t assume that you or someone from your family just has a cold, allergies, or a little cough. If you have these symptoms, please stay home and connect with us online.
  2. Fist-bumping is back! If you forget, we have sanitizer stations.
  3. We want to take extra care of our kids who may be more prone to catch it and spread it this time around. If you are a parent, note that all of our CM workers are taking every precaution outlined by the Tulsa Health Department.
  4. Until Tulsa gets out of the woods and our healthcare workers aren’t desperately begging for the community to take every available precaution, we encourage you to wear a mask when you are coming and going, and when you are singing. If we all do this (vaccinated or not), for this brief amount of time, we can contribute to health and harmony. If you can’t for a medical reason, that’s ok. We’ll continue to offer the Overflow as a way to be very spread out.
  5. Please look for ways to serve those who need extra care and support. With people scrambling to find child care due to closed schools, others needing to quarantine, others caring for family members, and others grieving the loss of loved ones (like the person I spoke with this morning), we’re all going to need some extra care.  
Like you, we’ll prayerfully watch what happens over the next few weeks. We hope we can soon let out a sigh of relief. Until then, let’s be loving, vigilant, and kind.

Blessings,

Brian Jennings
Highland Park Christian Church