Since our last update, the Task Force on Re-Entry has continued to compile the growing and ever-evolving scientific and governmental information related to Covid-19 in order to help guide our community activities. Our current focus is on members and friends who wish to congregate in our building, which is relatively small, confined, and not well-ventilated. Since March 2020, we have continued to hold most meetings, including our Sunday platforms, online instead of in-person.
A few months ago, it appeared that we could plan to begin calling for less stringent protection practices. Availability of safe and highly effective SARS-CoV-2 vaccines increased the possibility of durable control of Covid-19. Initially, there was substantial progress in vaccinating US residents. In the spring of 2021, there was a steady decline in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. However, immunization rates have plateaued and safer behavior (primarily masking) has declined. Infections are on the upswing again, closely associated with the emergence of the Delta variant of SARSCoV-2. Like other RNA viruses, SARS-CoV-2 constantly mutates, with new variants emerging as long as ongoing transmission persists. A variant can become more common if it provides a selective advantage to the virus.
Vaccination continues to be our best defense against the continuation of this pandemic, and an important step occurred on August 23 when the FDA gave full approval to the Pfizer vaccine https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-covid-19-vaccine, for individuals 16 and older. Multiple studies from the United States and other countries have demonstrated that a two-dose Covid-19 mRNA vaccination series is highly effective against SARS-CoV-2 infection (including both symptomatic and asymptomatic infections) caused by ancestral and variant strains and sequelae including severe disease, hospitalization, and death. Early evidence for the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine also demonstrates effectiveness against Covid-19 in real-world conditions.
However, there is also evidence that the Delta variant is more transmissible, and that although fully vaccinated individuals are still protected against severe disease, they may spread the virus to others, including the unvaccinated. It is for this reason that mask-wearing is required when in the building, even though everyone is fully vaccinated. It is our goal to provide the safest possible environment to all who wish to attend Sunday platforms in person. The only person who will not be wearing a mask will be the speaker (while delivering the address), who will be positioned a distance away from attendees. In addition, there is to be no eating or drinking in the building.
The exciting development in terms of our Sunday platform are the new “hybrid” platforms starting Sept. 12. This means that in-person attendance is once again possible, with the Zoom option still available. The regulations (shown below) will provide maximum confidence to everyone entering the building to attend Sunday platform. We are very happy to make the announcement below.
Be Sure You Know the Rules
- You must wear a mask when in the building.
- You must be fully vaccinated to enter the building.
- You must show proof of vaccination. Pick one: Show vaccination card at entrance or show vax electronic document on your phone at the entrance or email a copy (pdf or jpeg) of your vax card to firstname.lastname@example.org at least one day in advance.
- Eating and drinking is outdoors only.
- Sunday School will continue to meet outside the building until further notice.
- Proof of vaccination is required–no exceptions.
Of course, those who are not vaccinated but still want to attend platforms are welcome to participate virtually.
As we begin to incorporate these new guidelines, our small outdoor events, such as lunches and walks/hikes, can continue, providing the appropriate precautions are adhered to.
Our top priority is to keep you safe, healthy, and able to enjoy fully participating in our Society!
Mary Matsui, member of Task Force on Re-Entry