I am providing a follow-up to yesterday’s messaging around COVID-19 and the intentional steps that we are taking to ensure that our members are safe, and that we are seeking to respond in compassionate and risk-informed preventative ways. Yesterday’s announcement that schools would be closed for a further two weeks after March Break certainly intensified people’s anxiety about this public health crisis. It seems that many workplaces are encouraging their employees to work from home and are postponing conferences and in person meetings. And we are watching images of long lines and bare shelves at our grocery stores. We are all concerned and are seeking to respond in the best way possible to prevent further spread of the virus and maintain a sense of calm.
To that end, having consulted with our Leadership, we will continue as outlined in yesterday’s messaging. We will plan to hold worship THIS Sunday unless advised by authorities otherwise. Please check our website (www.standrewsguelph.com) for information if we are required to close.
To prevent the spread of the virus, please as highlighted by WDG Public Health (https://www.wdgpublichealth.ca/your-health/novel-coronavirus-covid-19):
- If you have traveled to infected areas, limit your contact with others and stay home;
- If you have any symptoms, stay home;
- Wash your hands;
- Don’t touch your face;
- Keep your distance from others (1-2 metres);
- Disinfect and clean surfaces regularly.
For St. Andrew’s, as noted yesterday, we will practice the following:
- We will interact with one another with smiles, bows and waves, and words. We will refrain from any physical contact like hugs or handshakes;
- We will not pass the Offering Plates but will encourage attendees to deposit their offering in the plates before and after;
- We will not have Communion until June 7 as scheduled;
- We will practice SOCIAL DISTANCING. We will sit 1 – 2 metres apart in the sanctuary. “Give Each Other Some Space!”
This morning, I’m adding that effective TODAY:
- There will be NO Church School and Nursery;
- There will be NO Coffee Hour.
This change will be in place for three (3) weeks. It would be our intention to return to normal on Sunday April 5. However, we will continue to monitor the situation and make further decisions as we become more informed.
Our staff are taking extra precautions and ensuring that our building is being cleaned and sanitized regularly. We appreciate their diligence on this.
So at this time, we are NOT cancelling worship or closing our building. We are following the guidelines and recommendations from our public health authorities and will continue to do so. We believe that those who use our building through the week will be doing the same for their groups. However, if you personally would rather not attend worship or programs or groups at St. Andrew’s for a time then please do what you need to do in order to feel comfortable.
Two final things:
1. At Sunday worship, while I will be offering prayers related to the COVID-19 pandemic – it will not be the focus of my attention. In my opinion and experience, (especially with the 24 hour news cycle) we need to think about and set our minds on other things for a time. I look forward to sharing some more thoughts on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 6. The service and sermon are recorded on Sundays and will be posted on our website and the Facebook page in the days following;
2. As we enter this period of ‘social distancing’ and isolation, it is REALLY IMPORTANT that we take extra steps to maintain contact with each other. I’d encourage you to call or email members of our congregation (and neighbours) to see how they are doing. Take the Church Directory out one day and perhaps call people whom you’ve never met before and just say that you go to St. Andrew’s too and you wanted to see how they were doing. Certainly, keep regularly in touch with those whom you do know well. It will be a welcome change from duct cleaners and Revenue Agency calls. Finally, some of our older members may need assistance – maybe they need groceries or supplies – please offer to help them if you are able.
We continue to be in prayer for all who are impacted by this situation. We will get through this together by making risk-informed decisions, taking appropriate precautions to limit the spread of the virus, and being kind and compassionate to each other as we do so.
May God’s peace and patience rest upon us as we navigate the road ahead.
Grace and peace,
Attached is a letter from The Presbyterian Church in Canada regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
I’ve also included some advice from Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health (https://www.wdgpublichealth.ca/your-health/novel-coronavirus-covid-19).
As you will note – the risk of infection is considered low but it is important to be aware of the advice from the experts (not Social Media) and be reminded to follow common infection control protocols.
We continue to pray for all those impacted by this virus.
Grace and peace, Rev. John.
Risk to Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph residents
The risk of infection is considered low. Those most at risk are:
- Individuals experiencing symptoms AND any of the following within 14 days prior to onset of symptoms:
- Travel to an impacted area*
- Close contact** with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19, or
- Close contact** with a person who is ill and has been to an impacted area.
*Impacted Area: includes all countries/areas with a Government of Canada Travel Health Advisory for COVID-19. As of March 1, 2020 this includes:
- Northern Italy
- South Korea
- Hong Kong
The list of countries is updated regularly, please refer to Government of Canada Travel Health Advisory for COVID-19 website for the most updated information on impacted areas.
**Close contact: A person who provided care for the patient, including healthcare workers, family members or other caregivers, or who had other similar close physical contact OR who lived with or otherwise had close prolonged contact with a probable or confirmed case while the case was ill.
Individuals can have the virus and not show symptoms for up to 14 days (the exact incubation period is still under investigation). Symptoms need to be paired with a trip to an impacted area* or coming in close contact with someone who has traveled to an impacted area* in the past 14 days prior to onset of illness to be a suspected case of COVID-19.
Symptoms range from common to severe respiratory illnesses and include:
- difficulty breathing
People most at risk from the novel coronavirus include the young, elderly and those with underlying medical conditions.
Instructions for individuals who have recently travelled from China or an impacted area*:
Individuals who have returned from Hubei province in China, including Wuhan City:
- Within 24 hours of arriving in Canada, contact WDG Public Health at 1-800-265-7293 ext. 4752 or after hours call 1-877-884-8653.
- Stay at home and avoid close contact with others, including other residents of the home, for 14 days from the date of travel from Hubei province.
- Individuals who develop symptoms (fever and/or cough or difficulty breathing) should call WDG Public Health at 1-800-265-7293 ext. 4752 for further instruction.
Individuals who have returned from an impacted area*:
- Monitor yourself for symptoms (fever and/or cough or difficulty breathing) for 14 days after travelling from an impacted area*.
- Individuals who develop symptoms (fever and/or cough or difficulty breathing) should call WDG Public Health at 1-800-265-7293 ext. 4752 or after hours call 1-877-884-8653 for further instruction.
If you feel sick during travel from an impacted area*, inform a flight attendant or a Canadian border services officer.
IN AN EMERGENCY: Individuals with severe respiratory symptoms should call 911 and advise the operator of your recent travel or visit your nearest emergency department.
If you have been asked to self-isolate
Follow the advice of your healthcare provider or public health. If you have questions, or you start to feel worse, contact your healthcare provider, Telehealth (1-877-797-0000) or our novel coronavirus call centre (ext. 7006). Here are some guidelines to follow if you are asked to self-isolate (PDF, 2 pages).
How to prevent infection
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to reduce the risk of infection is to practice general infection prevention control. This includes:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
- Stay home when you are ill.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately throw the tissue in the garbage and wash your hands.
- If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or arm.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
How to wash your hands
- Wet your hands.
- Make bubbles/lather with soap
- Sing the ABCs or wash for 20 seconds.
- Rince your hands.
- Dry your hands.
We are delighted to have Professor Allen Jorgenson, Assistant Dean at Martin Luther University College at Wilfred Laurier University speak to us on the theme of “Pathways to Wisdom”.
Saturday March 28 from 10:00AM to 2:30PM
It includes lunch and snacks.
Join us for an engaging time of learning and sharing.
Due to some technical difficulties the regular Service and Sermon from St Andrew’s Guelph is unavailable. Our humblest apologies.