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COVID-19: Part 11

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write today, but there’s a lot of things that make this weekend special:

  • This is the 100th day since I started working from home.
  • Elijah and Tyla finished up the school year yesterday
  • Monday is Elijah’s birthday.

It seemed like all of that warranted a “where are we now” post.

Since the last post, King County has moved to Phase “1.5”. It’s basically like Phase 2 but with lower limits. So if a restaurant might be allowed to have 50% capacity in Phase 2, in Phase 1.5 they can have 25%. King County is a bit behind some other counties mostly because they aren’t doing enough testing. It’s hard to ramp up to test the right percentage of the population when you have the most populous county in the state.

The risk assessment dashboard from Washington state is the main data source that I’m watching these days. It shows the metrics that each county needs to hit to apply for the next phase. Looking at that website, it appears that King County has really been ramping up their testing and infection rates are falling so we will probably be applying for phase 2 next week.

When we were in phase 1, it was very easy to draw the line on our interaction with people outside our house because there was none. Now that we’re able to have outdoor interaction with 5 people, it’s more challenging to draw the lines. It’s important to get Elijah outside to socialize with his friends and burn off some energy, but how do you keep that to 5 people? As we’ve seen all along, these rules are difficult to implement, but we continue to do our best to follow the orders and when in doubt, I apply that guideline I quoted early in this series: If everyone else was doing the same thing, would it be ok?

As if deciding how to handle things inside my own family wasn’t enough of a challenge, I’m also an elder at church which means I’ve been having a lot of difficult meetings to figure out how to minister to our members. Our behavior inside the walls of thechurch are even more complicated since we aren’t bound biblically or constitutionally to follow guidelines that tell us not to worship together. However, up to this point we’ve been abiding by them by choice. As a group, we decided to open up a very limited service this week, following the same rules that the state government gave for other businesses even though they have said that indoor church services aren’t included yet. It was a tough choice followed by many more tough decisions about what precautions to take.

My main challenge in this was separating out valid Christian needs and desires from political anger and frustration. While the church will be open this week, my family won’t be attending this one. My thinking is that King County appears to be on the verge of Phase 2 when I’ll be able to attend church without exercising my right for civil disobedience. I don’t know how things will shake out down the road but at least for this weekend, that’s the plan. (If you want an excellent survey of what the Bible says about our responsibility to follow the government and how that applies to these pandemic orders, check out this blog post by Dr. Ryan MacPherson. It’s fun to hear from him again. We went to church with him while he was getting his PhD at Notre Dame.)

Socially, it’s challenging to have a new opportunity in our bag. Outdoor visitation with five people per week outside of our household? That is very easy to burn through. How do you pick the five people? How do you kindly tell close friends that you’re not picking them this week? I don’t have answers but we’ll figure it out.

I’m thankful that things are opening up despite the new challenges that it presents. I’m thankful that the outdoor spread of this does seem to be small as evidenced by the lack of an uptick in Seattle despite the large protests. However I’m nervous about counties like Yakima and Spokane. Yakima has one tenth the population of King County but yet they have three times more cases than King County. The quick answer from the people who want to ignore this is that “they’re just doing more testing.” If you look at the data, that is true but despite how many tests they do, they’re still getting the same rate of positives. That implies that there is a huge untested population that has the virus. Spokane is also headed in the wrong direction. After lowering their numbers and demanding that they be allowed to go to Phase 2 with the counties around them, their numbers are shooting up much higher than the first spike. Will we see more hot spots like that as things reopen?

It’s easy to get lost wondering if and when the second wave is going hit or what will school be like in the fall or will we really get a vaccine in the beginning of 2021 or how long will it take them to produce enough for everyone globally or how big will the outcry be from the anti-vaccine crowd? All of that is out of my control so I focus on my family and living our lives one day at a time. I don’t have to get through a year at a time. I just have to get through today.

With that in mind, I recommend reading the June 10 devotion from our church body titled “A New Day“. It focused on the comforting refrain from the first book of Genesis: “There was evening and there was morning.” Every day, the sun comes up and the sun goes down. God continues to be in control. He watches over us and keeps his promises. He gives us what we need each day.

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