A question that has been rolling around in my head is why did the Public Health authorities so quickly go to DEFCON Level 1 with this novel coronavirus but not with the previous SARS, MERS, H1N1? What did they know or what did they suspect about COVID19 that made Health officials insist on such drastic actions? My guess is that they either knew or suspected this virus may have been bioengineered and somehow escaped a laboratory, making it a potential super-virus.
Maybe someday we will know the origins of the virus but now after several months of the virus spreading worldwide, we do know some things. This virus is definitely very contagious but a lot less lethal than originally feared. Based on all the data collected worldwide at this point, about 99% of those infected do recover. One thing fatalities have in common is that they all reported underlying health issues. Even though the highest rates of death were among those in Nursing facilities, it was not necessarily because of age but rather preexisting conditions. I guess you wouldn't be in a Nursing Home if you didn't have some health condition that put you there.
Knowing this can help us protect those who are high risk. But for the rest of us, well, chances are that many of us will still get sick from the virus (and recover). This is where it is really important to keep our thinking straight. Remember the “15 days to Flatten the Curve” (which turned into 50 something days) was all about slowing the spread of the virus, so that our Health care systems did not get overwhelmed. It was never about stopping the virus. Flattening the Curve means that the infections are just spread out over a longer span of time. So, you can think of this as a really bad and really long Cold and Flu season. Just as with Cold and Flu we all try to avoid getting them, with this virus we should take the same precautions and do our best to avoid it. This means those who are sick with the virus need to quarantine until they are well and those exposed to someone who has the virus need to get tested quickly.
Of the many unknowns about this virus is how long will it last? The original SARS virus didn't last all that long and then disappeared more or less. Will this virus just go away or will it be a seasonal thing much like the Flu? If you develop immunity, can you still get reinfected? Will immunity be like that of the measles or mumps, one and done? Or will it be more like the Flu, where you can get it again? The same is true with a vaccine. Will it be more like the childhood vaccines we get, which have pretty much wiped out diseases like mumps, measles, rubella, small pox or more like the seasonal Flu vaccines which provide some level of immunity but not complete immunity?
So, at this point there is a lot we do know and a lot we do not know. But we can make intelligent, informed decisions on what we do know so that we can get back to something approaching normal life. That’s why it is important to remember that safe does not mean riskfree. We can do our best to keep ourselves safe and keep our environments clean. All that mitigates the risk but does not eliminate it. The most important part of this strategy is for each of us to pay attention to our own health, take the necessary precautions and if you believe you are infected or you know you were exposed to take yourself out of circulation until tested.
With that in mind, this weekend we begin our Phased Reopening of Parish Life. For the next four weekends there will be 3 Ways to Participate in Sunday Mass. Remember the obligation to attend Sunday Mass is still suspended in the Diocese of Phoenix so if you are not comfortable attending in person Masses you can participate via Live Stream on Saturday Evening at 5pm and if you chose you can come afterwards to the Parking Lot to receive Holy Communion.
For those who wish to participate in-person at Sunday Mass you can attend Mass on Sunday Morning at 7am, 9am, 11am, outdoors on the basketball courts. Since this is held outdoors, the requirements for physical distancing are not as strict as the virus does not transmit easily outdoors and in temperatures 77F and higher. Not a problem for us here in central AZ!
You can also attend in-person Mass on Saturday evening in the Church (which also will be livestreamed) but with a capacity limitation of 150 people. We are reserving the Saturday 5pm Vigil inperson attendance to those over 60yrs and those who are in high-risk categories. You can also attend in-person Mass on Sunday at 5pm. Again, with a capacity limitation of 150 people. If you are person 151 you will not be admitted into the Church. This is so we can maintain the current physical distancing expectations. And please know we do our best each day to clean and sanitize our facilities. But even with the more frequent cleaning our buildings are not sterile.
Face-coverings are encouraged but not required. But if you do wear one please wear it correctly, namely making sure it covers your nose and mouth at the same time. Also refrain from constantly touching your face while wearing a face covering. Children 2 yrs. and younger should not wear face-coverings as it poses a suffocation risk.
Our Reopening is much like sticking your toe in the water, we are not jumping right in! These next four weeks may be a little awkward or slow and just as soon as we get acclimated, we might be moving into the next Phase!
Fr. John B.
PS A good friend works for the AZ Attorney General’s Fraud Detection Unit and they have been working 12-hour shifts to combat the fraud that is going on during this Pandemic. Be careful who you donate to and if you are unsure you can contact the AZ AG’s office. Two safe ways to donate are to our FullCircle Program, as most of our Spring Fundraising events have had to be cancelled, as well as our Coffee Shop sales and to our St. Vincent de Paul Conference. As we move through the summer, we are expecting an increase in requests for assistance as people’s savings and reserves start to run out.BACK TO LIST