Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 — March 3, 2021

  “Shared expectations lead to predictability.”

 221.  National COVID-19 Strategic Plan – (Part 6 of 8)

         Q:  What’s in the new United States strategic plan for controlling this pandemic?

         A: On January 21, 2021, President Joe Biden released the 198-page National Strategy for the            COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness.  This week’s summary gives details about:

Goal 5 — Safely reopen schools, businesses
and travel while protecting workers.

The plan states, “The United States is committed to ensuring that students and educators are able to resume safe, in-person learning as quickly as possible, with the goal of getting a majority of K-8 schools safely open in 100 days.”  The strategy for safely reopening schools, businesses and travel will:

  • Ensure adequate supplies;
  • Guarantee full access to FEMA disaster relief and emergency assistance for K-12;
  • Support implementing COVID-19 testing;
  • Develop and release detailed technical guidance on safely reopening schools;
  • Working with state and local officials to understand barriers and to shape policy;
  • Create a Safer Schools and Campuses Best Practices Clearinghouse;
  • Track progress toward school reopening and the use of federal funds; and
  • Support learning – no matter the setting.

Next week: details about Goal 6 – Protect those more at risk and advance equity, including across racial, ethnic and rural/urban lines.

 222. A key Issue has surfaced with vaccination scheduling – before March 1, 2021

         Q. Has anything changed since last week on the vaccination program?

         A. An announcement made by governor Lamont over a week ago has resulted in some controversy. Nationally, the CDC recommended the states follow a uniform guideline for scheduling groups to sequentially open their eligibility for vaccinations.  The first several groups were identified with discrete groups:  hospital workers, nursing homes, firefighters, police officers, etc.  This was followed by age criteria – age over 75, and later over age 65.  The Governor and the state COVID advisory committee reviewed the remaining groups such as individuals with identified health conditions, and “essential workers” at various locations.  It is suspected there was concern about how these individuals could prove their eligibility.  Hospital workers and firefighters can be vaccinated at their facilities.  Age can be proved by a state ID or driver’s license.  But how does a bus driver or a person with multiple sclerosis demonstrate their qualifications?  How easy might it be for a healthy unemployed person wanting a vaccination to “jump the line” and simply, falsely, claim an eligible condition?  This raises the need to find a better way to clarify each individual’s eligibility to apply for an appointment.  The state has the authority to decide the eligibility requirements for vaccinations.  The decision was reached to ignore the CDC suggestion and substitute a continuation of grouping people by decreasing age.  An examination showed a correlation of the numbers of people with relevant health conditions decreasing with decreasing age.   So the age criteria were announced and are now in place: ages 55 and over – starting March 1; ages 45 and over – starting March 22; ages 35 and over – starting April 12, and ages 16 and over – starting May 3.

For months, those who are young but who have a relevant health condition, or who work in an essential job such as bagging groceries, were expecting to become vaccinated in just a few days.  Now they are told it may be months or longer before they can find this protection.  Their shared expectations were suddenly changed.  The resulting unpredictability has resulted in protests, anger and frustration.  Controversy is evident and becoming more vocal over time.  The problem now is should the governor  change back to the CDC guidelines, everyone in the now-designated age groups would be made upset because their expectations would become unpredictable.  The “lesson learned” is that for future planning, time must be taken to identify alternatives early, then create expectations that will be more likely to remain in place.

223. Clarification of the goal of vaccination – to prevent serious disease and death.

         Q:  Which of now 3 approved vaccines should I take?

         A:  There is much debate about which of the three now-approved vaccines are the most effective, hence which should I want to receive?   Part of this discussion is the speculation and emerging (but not yet conclusive) evidence on how each of the three vaccines affect the growing number of variant COVID-19 cases.  There is a current consensus of scientists and epidemiologists that once you are eligible, you should get the first vaccine that is offered.  In fact, at any vaccination site, there is only one choice available – the vaccine that is available at that site.  Any delay waiting to find a site that has your “favorite” choice only delays the point where the number of infected people become low enough to slow the number of emerging mutants or variants to reduce this as an issue.  Most people want to become vaccinated so they won’t become Ill.  But we already have been told that many vaccinated people may become infected, yet remain asymptomatic.  They can still spread the disease to others.  This concept is now being expanded to refine the message: the goal of vaccinations is not to prevent one from becoming infected, it is to prevent one from becoming seriously ill, i.e., hospitalized, requiring a ventilator or becoming a fatality.  All three vaccines have clearly demonstrated the same high degree of efficiency in achieving that goal.

224. “Booster shots may be required for some people to continue COVID immunity.

         Q:  Will we have to get annual booster shots for COVID like we do for the seasonal flu?

         A:  This is a possibility, but remains a decision to be made in the future.  The science behind the rapid creation of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is based on creating a partial sample of the COVID-19 ribonuclear acid.  That partial sample is not able to replicate itself to spread infections to other cells, but is a memory of the whole (mRNA) that can stimulate the body’s immune system to destroy future complete and infectious coronavirus-19 varioles.  As coronavirus cells mutate, scientists can now identify any of the RNA that may have changed, and create modified mRNA to be readily included in updated vaccines.  In fact, some of these modified mRNA fragments are already being incorporated in the vaccines currently being produced.  Once the pandemic is under control, the possibility exists that variants will then be present that are found to reduce the effectiveness of the mRNA (Pfizer and Moderna) vaccines.  It also may be found that immunity may become reduced over time.  If so, development of a “booster shot” can easily be developed and deployed to sustain the current effort underway.

225. CDC guidance is pending on safe practices for vaccinated people.

         Q:  My friend and I just finished our vaccination shots.  He wants me to travel and “return to normal” with him.  What do I tell him?

         A:  It remains the CDC guidance that anyone recently vaccinated must continue to take the same basic precautions: wear a mask, keep socially distant from others, and wash hands often.  Remember, it is still possible for a vaccinated person to become infected, and without symptoms, pass the disease along to others.  But the CDC is aware that more specific guidance is needed as more and more people are become vaccinated and tempted to relax their vigilance.  The CDC has just announced new and expanded guidelines are being created, and will be released very soon.  It will be wise to follow their advice to be patient and wait before assuming that for each vaccinated person, the long wait is over.

“We Have No Secret Knowledge!” — UUS:E Virtual Worship, March 7, 2021

Gathering Music (Mary Bopp) (begins at 9:50 AM)

Welcome (Rev. Josh Pawelek)

Announcements

Centering

Prelude

“Trumpet Tune”
by William Boyce
performed by Roland Chirico

Chalice Lighting and Opening Words

“There is Only One Reason for Joining a Unitarian Universalist Church”
adapted from John B. Wolf
#183 in Lifting Our Voices
spoken by Rev. Josh and the UUS:E Stewardship Committee
(Adam Bender, Louisa Graver, Phil Sawyer,
Stan McMillen and Larry Lunden

Opening Song

“For a World Made Whole”
words by Josh Pawelek, music by Mary Bopp
led by Rev. Josh

May we be people, people of faith.
May we be people, people of faith.
May we be people, people of faith.
For a world made whole, may we be people of faith.

May we be people, people of hope….

May we be people, people of love….

Meditation

Musical Meditation (Mary Bopp)

Joys and Concerns

Musical Meditation (Mary Bopp)

Offering 

Continuing our practice of sharing our gifts with the community beyond our walls, fifty percent of our
Sunday plate collections for the month of March will be split between Communitas and Hartford
Deportation Defense.

Offering Music

excerpt from “Trumpet Sonata”
by Henry Purcell
performed by Roland Chirico

Homily “We Have No Secret Knowledge” (Rev. Josh Pawelek)

Closing Song

“May Nothing Evil Cross This Door”
words by Louis Untermeyer, music by Robert Quaile
#1 in Singing the Living Tradition
led by Rev. Josh Pawelek

May nothing evil cross this door,
and may ill fortune never pry about
these windows; may the roar
and rain go by.

By faith made strong, the rafters will
withstand the battering of the storm.
This hearth, though all the world grow chill,
will keep you warm.

Peace shall walk softly through these rooms,
touching our lips with holy wine,
till every casual corner blooms
into a shrine.

With laughter drown the raucous shout,
and, though these sheltering walls are thin,
may they be strong to keep hate out
and hold love in.

Extinguishing the Chalice

Closing Circle

May faith in the Spirit of Life
And hope for the community of earth
And love of the light in each other
Be ours now, and in all the days to come.

Coffee Hour / Breakout Rooms

 

 

“Bear Witness; Save Lives” — UUS:E Virtual Worship, February 28, 2021

Opening Music (Mary Bopp) (begins at 9:50)

Words of Welcome and Introduction (Gina Campellone)

Announcements (Rev. Josh Pawelek)

Centering (Gina Campellone)

Prelude

“Draw the Circle Wide”
by Mark Mitchell, arr. Mary Bopp
performed by Mary Bopp

 Chalice Lighting and Opening Words

“I will not die an unlived life”
From A Grateful Heart
Dawna Markova
Spoken by Max Pawelek

Opening Hymn

“Come, Come, Whoever You Are”
Words adapted from Rumi, music by Lynn Adair Ungar
#188 in Singing the Living Tradition
led by Jeannine Westbrook and Rev. Josh

Come, come, whoever you are,
wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving.
Ours is no caravan of despair.
Come, yet again come.

Story

“Spork”
by Kylo Maclear
as told by CB Beal

Musical Meditation (Mary Bopp)

Joys and Concerns

Musical Meditation (Mary Bopp)

Offering

Continuing our practice of sharing our gifts with the community beyond our walls, fifty percent of our Sunday plate collections for the month of February will go to Operation Fuel.

Offering Music

“When I am Frightened”
by Shelly Jackson Denham
performed by Jeannine Westbrook

Reading

“For Nothing is Fixed” from Nothing Personal
by James Baldwin
#186 in Lifting Our Voices
spoken by Jessica Slogesky

For nothing is fixed,
forever and forever and forever,
it is not fixed;
the earth is always shifting,
the light is always changing,
the sea does not cease to grind down rock.
Generations do not cease to be born,
and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have.
The sea rises, the light fails,
lovers cling to each other,
and children cling to us.
The moment we cease to hold each other,
the moment we break faith with one another,
the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.

Musical Meditation (Mary Bopp)

Homily “Bear Witness: Save Lives” (CB Beal)

Closing Hymn

“How Could Anyone”
by Libby Roderick
#1053 in Singing the Journey
led by Jeannine Westbrook

How could anyone ever tell you
you were anything less than beautiful?
How could anyone ever tell you
you were less than whole?
How could anyone fail to notice
that your loving is a miracle?
How deeply you’re connected to my soul.

Extinguishing the Chalice

Closing Circle

May faith in the Spirit of Life
And hope for the community of earth
And love of the light in each other
Be ours now, and in all the days to come.

Coffee Hour / Breakout Rooms

Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 — February 24, 2021

  “Shared expectations lead to predictability.”

216. National COVID-19 Strategic Plan – (Part 5 of 8)

        Q:  What’s in the new United States strategic plan for controlling this pandemic?

        A: On January 21, 2021, Joe Biden released the 198-page National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness.  This week’s summary gives details about

Goal 4 – Expand emergency relief and exercise the Defense Production Act

The Strategic Plan states: “It’s past time to fix America’s COVID-response supply shortage problems for good.  The United States will immediately address urgent supply gaps, which will require monitoring and strengthening supply chains, while also steering the distribution of supplies to areas with the greatest need.”  To expand emergency relief and strengthen the supply chain, the government will:

  • Increase emergency funding to the states and bolster the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) response;
  • Fill supply shortfalls by invoking the Defense Production Act (DPA);
  • Identify and solve the urgent COVID-19 related supply gaps and strengthen that supply chain. Included is increased domestic manufacturing of:
    • Antigen and molecular-based testing;
    • PPE and durable medical equipment;
    • Vaccine development and manufacturing;
    • Therapeutics and key drugs;
  • Secure the pandemic supply chain and create a manufacturing base in the US;
  • Improve distribution and expand availability of critical materials.

Next week: details about Goal 5 – Safely reopen schools, businesses, and travel, while protecting workers.

217. Issues with vaccination delivery – as of February 22 2021

        Q. Has anything changed since last week on the vaccination program?

        A. There is an increasing number of vaccination sites opening up. Past problems identifying a site and making an appointment are gradually becoming less frustrating.  Still a problem is the lack of coordination between clinics.  A person can schedule an appointment in three weeks with a clinic they have just called, while a nearer clinic might have an opening in just two days.

Attention is now shifting to the issue of “equity.”  Not all groups are equally able to schedule appointments, or attend vaccination clinics.  Many living in poverty may not have a computer or phone to schedule an appointment.  Those without cars are unable to get to a distant clinic not on a bus route.   And for many minorities, there is the cultural problem of resistance to be vaccinated.  For people of color, there is the lingering legacy of the “Tuskegee Experiment.”  Starting in 1933, 600 men agreed to participate in a study of the treatment of syphilis.  The participants gave their consent without being informed, and proper treatment was not offered.  This lasted for 40 years before it was exposed as an illegitimate effort.  To this day, distrust of the government and of public health practices have remained a formidable barrier for many Black people.   And then, there is the very vocal and expanding “Anti-Vax” movement.

These emerging problems foretell of future intensive efforts to provide multiple vaccination clinics closer to where people live.  Also, on the near horizon will be major public education campaigns to encourage people to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations.

218. In Connecticut, religious exemptions from vaccinations are controversial.

        Q:  Why is the law granting religious exemptions for vaccinations raising such concern?

        A:  State law in Connecticut requires children to be vaccinated against several infectious diseases such as measles.  Those not vaccinated cannot be enrolled in schools unless they have received an approved exception.  Currently, there are two allowable exceptions: a medical condition, given by a physician, where a vaccination could cause harm, and a religious exemption declared by the parents.  Many people don’t want their children vaccinated for a variety of reasons.  Even if the parents don’t hold religious beliefs against vaccinations, it is easy for them to sign the religious exemption form – no verification is required.  The legislature has proposed a bill to eliminate this religious exception.  Literally over a thousand people had signed up to speak at the hearing last week.

This all illustrates the lack of awareness of public health being different from individual or private medical care.  Everyone has the right to refuse medical care for themselves.  Even when this offered care is known to be life-saving.  But the public health is focused on the protection of the population, protection from being infected and being made sick.  Any person who is or could become infected should not be allowed to refuse the public health remedy of being quarantined or being vaccinated to protect others.   For years in Connecticut, people wanting to prevent their children from being vaccinated for any reason have been able to sign a religious objection form.  As a result, many children attend schools without their vaccinations.  A few years ago, a measles outbreak occurred in schools as a result of this.  With the vaccination of children just months away, many are concerned that if parents use this exemption, COVID could spread in the schools.  Other parents want to defend the exemptions.  So the public reacted by attending the hearing.

After 24 hours and 230 speakers had testified, the hearing ended.  Further oral testimony from the 1,730 others who had signed up was denied.  It will be interesting to watch how this debate will decide between what people want and what public health requires.

219. Children will have to wait before they can be vaccinated.

        Q:  When can my 8-year-old child get vaccinated?

        A:  Children under the age of 16 are not yet on the schedule for COVID-19 vaccinations.  (For the Moderna vaccine, the cut off is under the age of 18.)  During the clinical trials of the already approved vaccines, children under these ages were not included.  One major reason for this is the well-known quandary of pediatric medicine: how can parents subject their children to clinical trials of a medicine that has not yet been proven safe?  The FDA requires that vaccines used on children must be first tested on children.  Children at different ages have maturing immune systems that react differently and thus can become unpredictable unless they are evaluated.  The clinical trials in adults provides confidence that new clinical trials can now proceed to verify their safety and efficacy, and to establish dosing guidelines for children.  It was decided to first focus on adolescents because they make up 67% of actual cases, while children ages 5-11 make up only 37%.

COVID-19 does affect children.  Even though the number of pediatric COVID cases are fewer than for adults, as of February 11, up to 2.3 percent of the more than three million children who have tested positive have been hospitalized.  At least 241 children have died from the disease.  It can be assumed the vaccine can help control the infection in children and reduce the ability to spread the disease to others.  It is not yet known what the vaccine’s effect is on the Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome that often occurs in pediatric patients.  Evaluations are already underway with Pfizer testing its vaccine on 2,500 children between the ages of 12 and 15.  Moderna is enrolling 3,000 participants ages 12 to 17.  Results on these teenagers should be known by this summer – Dr. Fauci recently projected this is possible as early as April.  He also stated studies on younger children will follow with results hopefully by September.    But many variables could cause delays.

220. The personal impact of a shortened life span – what it means for you

         Q:  I hear that COVID-19 has shortened life span by 1 year.  Will we will all die earlier?

         A:  It was announced last week that because of COVID-19, the estimated life span is now one year less than it was last year.  This is another statistic publicized to add drama to the impact of the disease. Unfortunately, it is causing concern because it has not been fully explained.  A life span is an average calculation – a number which includes the group as a whole.  It cannot be applied to one individual.  For example, if a program to have people stop smoking succeeds, those who never smoked can be expected to live just as long as they would have earlier.  But the average life span for everyone together would increase.

The number of deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19 has steadily increased over the past year.  Many of these deaths have been younger people who previously would have died much later from other causes.  The average length of life for the group has thus been shortened.  Those who were never ill with COVID can expect to live just as long as they did before.  Over time, as the pandemic wanes, fewer younger people will be dying from COVID.  The continuing calculation of life span will then increase.  The pandemic deaths will later be offset by people living in a much healthier future world.

“Beloved Community in Our Lives” — UUS:E Virtual Worship, February 21, 2021

Gathering music (begins at 9:50) (Mary Bopp)

Welcome (Alan Ayers, member of the Sunday Services Committee)

Announcements 

Centering

Prelude

“True Colors”
by Tom Kelly & Billy Steinberg
performed by Janet Desmarais, Kate Howard-Bender, Nancy Madar
and Jeannette LeSure as the flower
produced by Dan Thompson

Lighting the Chalice and Opening Words

“A Place of Belonging and Caring”
by the Rev. Kimberlee Anne Tomczak Carlson
read by Marsha Howland, member of the Sunday Services Committee

Opening Hymn

“There’s a River Flowing in My Soul”
by Rose Sanders
#1007 in Singing the Journey
led by Nancy and Joe Madar

There’s a river flowin’ in my soul.
There’s a river flowin’ in my soul.
And it’s tellin’ me that I’m somebody.
There’s a river flowin’ in my soul.

There’s a river flowin’ in my heart…

 

There’s a river flowin’ in my mind…

Introduction to the Service (Marsha Howland)

First Reading

excerpts from the Dalai Lama
read by Alan Ayers

First Speaker Fabian Garcia

Musical Meditation (Mary Bopp)

Joys and Concerns

Musical Meditation (Mary Bopp)

Offering

Continuing our practice of sharing our gifts with the community beyond our walls, fifty percent of our Sunday plate collections for the month of February will go to Operation Fuel.

Offering Music  

Humble and Kind”
by Lori McKenna
performed by Dan Thompson, Kathy Ayers and Alan Ayers

Second Reading

“One Love”
by the Rev. Hope Johnson
ready by Marsha Howland

Second Speaker   Molly Murphy

Musical Meditation (Mary Bopp)

Third Speaker   Al Benford

Musical Meditation (Mary Bopp)

Reflection Alan Ayers

Closing Hymn

“Lean on Me”
by Bill Withers
led by Joe and Nancy Madar

Extinguishing the Chalice

Closing Words

“Here for Beloved Community”
by the Rev. Dr. David Breeden
read by Marsha Howland

Closing Circle

May faith in the spirit of life
And hope for the community of earth
And love of the light in each other
Be ours now, and in all the days to come

Postlude (Mary Bopp)

Breakout Rooms

 

Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19, February 17, 2021

  “Shared expectations lead to predictability.”

210. National COVID-19 Strategic Plan – (Part 4 of 8)

        Q:  What’s in the new United States strategic plan for controlling this pandemic?

        A: On January 21, 2021, Joe Biden released the 198-page National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness.  This week’s summary gives details about

Goal 3 – Mitigate spread through expanding
masking, testing, treatment, data, workforce,
and clear public health standards

 

The Strategic Plan states: “A comprehensive national public health effort to control the virus – even after the vaccination program ramps up – will be essential to saving lives and restoring activity.”  To achieve this, the United States will:”

  • Implement masking nationwide by working with state and local officials and people;
  • Scale and expand testing;
  • Effectively distribute tests and expand access to testing;
  • Create new therapeutics, treatment development programs and drug prioritization.
  • Develop actionable, evidence-based public health guidance;
  • Expand the US public health workforce and increase clinical care capacity;
  • Improve data to guide the response to COVID-19.

Next week:  Details about Goal 4 – Expand emergency relief and exercise the Defense Production Act.

 211. Issues with vaccination registration – as of February 15, 2021

         Q. Has anything changed since last week on the vaccination program?

         A. The previous methods to track eligibility for vaccination and to make appointments remain the same. These are now broadly published by the news media.  The wide-spread confusion and waiting times are slowly being reduced.  “Be patient and persistent!” is generally good advice to follow.  A new nation-wide NBC website was released last week designed to centralize the process.  This “Plan Your Vaccine” is located at:[1]   

https://www.nbcnews.com/specials/plan-your-vaccine/

This release was just a short time ago.  Its  usefulness has yet to be evaluated by public feedback.

212. CDC guidelines issued for school reopenings

         Q:  Have the promised school opening guidelines been released by the CDC?

         A:  Yes.  Previous statements that studies and data indicated it would now be safe to reopen primary schools (K-12) met with controversy and concern.  In reaction to this confusion, the recommendation that schools should open soon was delayed until the CDC provided guidelines to make schools safe.  This was yet another illustration that expectations need to be shared to allow decisions to become predictable.  On February 11, 2021, CDC published the promised guidelines as “considerations” for operating schools safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was stated that these are not “mandates” nor “requirements.”  They offer guidance for school officials, staff and parents in reaching a decision to reopen.

Any local decision to open and remain open should be based on measuring the benefits of achieving educational goals with in-person teaching against the risk of infecting children, teachers and staff.  This CDC document offers mitigating “considerations” for review.

These new guidelines are quite detailed.  “Taking actions to reduce the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19” takes up most of the 16-page CDC document.  The discussion centers on mitigation and reduction of risk.  It is broadly recommended that every school should have a written “Emergency Operations Plan” (EOP).  Such a plan should address in detail the following;

  • Promoting behavior that reduces risk including masks and social distancing;
  • Adequate supplies including PPE, hand sanitizer, and no-touch trashcans;
  • Healthy environments including regular cleaning, and adequate ventilation:
  • Healthy operations including considerations for at-risk staff, and splitting schedules;
  • Preparations for when someone becomes sick including care and transportation;
  • Considerations for students with disabilities and special healthcare needs.

After release, the immediate reaction to these guidelines was concern over the costs and delays to implement many of these considerations.  Ventilation and expanding space to permit social distancing are cited.  These guidelines go beyond the current need, which is to reopen schools quickly.  In addition, it is noted that testing is not included, which is seen by most authorities as essential to identify asymptomatic patients.

Every school in Connecticut is mandated to have a written emergency operations plan.  Evaluation and approval of each school’s plan is done annually by the state Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS).  Because any modification of a plan is usually scheduled on an annual basis before it’s review, no  plans have yet been updated to include these new CDC guidelines.  However, every school should be rapidly preparing draft COVID policies and procedures, including these new considerations, attached to their plans.  Concerned parents might want to review their school’s EOP plan and policies to ensure it is updated.  To compare a school plan’s details against the CDC considerations, anyone can obtain a complete copy of the new CDC guidelines at:1

Operating schools during COVID-19: CDC’s Considerations

_____________________

[1] To open this website, copy the entire URL (the underlined letters in blue and copy this in your browser.

213. Teacher vaccines are not required before schools reopen

         Q:  Are teacher vaccinations required in the new CDC school reopening guidelines?

         A:  Teacher vaccination is the latest state-wide hot spot of controversy with COVID-19 mitigation.   Many people everywhere are clamoring to become eligible so they can quickly get their shots.  Teachers in Connecticut are in a group that has yet to become eligible.  There is a perception that continuous lengthy indoor classes with numbers of people not living in a teachers’ household, places them at high risk.  The recently released CDC guidelines make no mention of vaccinating anyone in a school before reopening.  Rochelle Walensky, MD, director of CDC stated earlier that teacher vaccinations are “important but not a prerequisite” for schools to reopen.  She explained that science finds that people are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 in their community than in their schools.  Reducing COVID in the community would reduce risk in schools.  The perceptions of teacher unions and school boards do not agree with this.  Teachers feel threatened by returning to the classrooms unvaccinated.  Many threaten to refuse to return until they are vaccinated.  As early as mid-January, governors in Arizona, Ohio, Utah and other states had moved up the eligibility for teachers and school staff to become vaccinated. Most of them now have received their shots.  Perhaps governor Lamont could easily do the same.  In any event, as more vaccine doses become available, school staff will soon be in an eligible group.

214. New CDC guideline: no quarantine required for vaccinated people

        Q:  Are people exposed to COVID  required to stay in quarantine?

        A:  Currently, there are no requirements that people who may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 must be quarantined.  Statutes exist that could require this for exposure to any infectious disease when ordered by the governor.  COVID-19 has so many people possibly exposed that such a mandate would create chaos and invite violations.  But today, there is one situation where it is not recommended that someone quarantine.  The CDC last week issued the guidance that anyone who has been fully vaccinated (by completing their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine) need not quarantine if they come in contact with someone who has contracted COVID-19.

215. Caution issued: don’t copy, post or share your vaccination card

        Q:  I want to tell people I am vaccinated. Why shouldn’t I post my card on Facebook?

        A:  To encourage others to become vaccinated, many people were initially advised to tell friends and family they’ve gotten their shots, or post their card on social media, or send copies via e-mail.  The Better Business Bureau and several credit security agencies now caution against this.  Each vaccination card has personal information such as name and birthdate.  Scammers are everywhere looking for copies of this very familiar card to capture its information.  One scam is to copy your card and print duplicate phonies that could be sold.  Instead, the BBB recommends photographing your vaccine sticker – it doesn’t have any personal information.

[1] To open this website, copy the entire URL (the underlined letters in blue and copy this in your browser.

“Crazy Little Thing Called Beloved Community” — UUS:E Virtual Worship, February 14, 2021

Gathering Music (begins at 9:50)

Welcome (Gina Campellone)

Announcements

Centering (Gina Campellone)

Prelude 

Minuet in G”
by J. S. Bach
performed by Olivia Cohen

Chalice Lighting and Opening Words

“We Hold Hope Close”
by Theresa Inez Soto

In this community, we hold hope close. We don’t
always know what comes next, but that cannot dissuade us.
We don’t always know just what to do, but that will not mean
that we are lost in the wilderness. We rely on the certainty
beneath, the foundation of our values and ethics. We
are the people who return to love like a North Star and to
the truth that we are greater together than we are alone.
Our hope does not live in some glimmer of an indistinct future.
Rather, we know the way to the world of which we dream,
and by covenant and the movement forward of one right action
and the next, we know that one day we will arrive at home.

Opening Hymn

“Though I May Speak With Bravest Fire”
words by Hal Thompson, set to traditional English melody
#34 in Singing the Living Tradition
Led by Sandy Johnson

Though I may speak with bravest fire, and have the gift to all inspire,
and have not love, my words are vain as sounding brass and hopeless gain.

Though I may give all I possess, and striving so my love profess,
but not be given by love within, the profit soon turns strangely thin.

Come, Spirit, come, our hearts control, our spirits long to be made whole.
Let inward love guide every deed; by this we worship, and are freed.

Story “We Love You Mister Hatch” (by Eileen Spinelli)

Musical Meditation (Mary Bopp)

Joys and Concerns

Musical Meditation (Mary Bopp)

Offering

Continuing our practice of sharing our gifts with the community beyond our walls, fifty percent of our Sunday plate collections for the month of February will go to Operation Fuel.

Offering Music

“March in G”
by J. S. Bach
performed by Elliot Vadas

Homily “Crazy Little Thing Called Beloved Community”

Slideshow

“Crazy Little Thing Called Love”

Music: “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”
By Freddie Mercury
Performed by Jenn Richard

Closing Hymn

“Break Not the Circle”
words by Fred Kaan, music by Thomas Benjamin
#323 in Singing the Living Tradition
Led by Sandy Johnson

Break not the circle of enabling love
where people grow, forgiven and forgiving;
break not that circle, make it wider still,
till it includes, embraces all the living.

Come, wonder at this love that comes to life,
where words of freedom are with humor spoken,
and people keep no score of wrong and guilt,
but will that human bonds remain unbroken.

Join then the movement of the love that frees,
till people of whatever race or nation
will truly be themselves, stand on their feet,
see eye to eye with laughter and elation.

Extinguishing the Chalice

Closing Circle

May faith in the spirit of life
And hope for the community of earth
And love of the light in each other
Be ours now, and in all the years to come.

Coffee Hour / Breakout Rooms

 

 

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19, February 10, 2021

  “Shared expectations lead to predictability.”

206. National COVID-19 Strategic Plan – (Part 3 of 8)

         Q:  What’s in the new United States strategic plan for controlling this pandemic?

         A: On January 21, 2021, Joe Biden released the National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness.  This week’s summary gives details about

  goal 2 – A safe, effective, comprehensive vaccination campaign.

“The United States will spare no effort to ensure Americans can get vaccinated quickly, effectively and equitably.”   There will be a strategy to improve allocation, distribution, administration, support and funding to state, local, tribal and territorial governments.  The federal government will mount an unprecedented public campaign to build trust in and encourage public health practices including mask use, social distancing, testing and contact tracing.  This will be done by:

  • Encouraging the availability of vaccines to the public;
  • Accelerate in getting shots into arms; making vaccines available to meet needs;
  • Create as many venues as needed to administer vaccinations;
  • Focus on hard-to-reach and high-risk populations;
  • Compensate providers, states and local governments for administering vaccines.;
  • Drive demographic equity in the vaccination campaign – and in the broader pandemic response;
  • Launch a national vaccination public education campaign;
  • Bolster data systems and transparency for vaccinations;
  • Monitor vaccine safety and efficacy, and
  • Surge the health care workforce to support the vaccination effort.

Next week: details about goal 3 – Mitigating spread through expanding masking, testing, treatment, data, workforce, and clear public health standards.

 207. Issues with vaccination registration – as of February 7, 2021

         Q. Has anything changed since last week on the vaccination program?

         A. It was announced last week that the next two groups eligible to receive vaccinations are soon to be activated. First, those who are in congregate settings would be “blended in” with the current priority group – those aged 75 and older.  This means that prisoners, correctional staff and people in group homes would be vaccinated by teams coming to them.  After these groups have been visited, the teams will then focus on other places that have a history of COVID infections such as migrant farm worker housing, and inpatient psychiatric facilities.

The other eligible group are those aged 65 to 74.  Appointments can now be made.  It is recommended that people in this age group plan early to make these appointments.  There are two state-level portals to do this.  The Connecticut Vaccine Line on the phone is: (877) 918-2224.  Also, the official “Vaccination Administration Management System” (VAMS) website[1]

https://dphsubmissions.ct.gov/OnlineVaccine

Several news articles have recently appeared that vaccination clinics had closed because they had run out of vaccine doses.  This has been a common problem in several states.  At first the headlines appeared in an accusatory way: The “clinics had overbooked.”  Defensively, local and other officials rebutted this.  On February 6 one of Connecticut senators was quoted in a local newspaper with the headline: “Blumenthal and others say feds to blame for lack of vaccine doses.”  This is an example of “reporting” as opposed to “Investigating.”  News reporters are encouraged to report controversies.  Assigning and rebutting blame sells papers and other media.  Shortly after these news reports appeared, a different picture emerged:  Local and federal officials working behind the scenes (without the press participating), conducted an investigation.  The root problem was identified, and recommendations were jointly released by both parties:  States needed to know well in advance what their allocations would be, allowing clinics to limit future appointments to meet the anticipated shipments.  The decision was made that Connecticut each week would receive a count of the doses coming for each of the following three weeks.   This method of mutual planning to resolve a problem or improve a process by an investigation has long been used by governments, the military and emergency management programs.   For example, after an airplane crash, it takes up to a year before the FAA releases its investigative report and the public learns for the fit time the causes and resulting actions taken to resolve the issues identified.

  1. Based on science, CDC recommends schools should be reopened

       Q:  Why is the prospect of opening schools so controversial?

       A:  The newly appointed director of the CDC, Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH recently recommended that schools should be reopened.  An overview report written by three scientists at the CDC outlined the facts leading to this conclusion.  In spite of this, however, the issues became more controversial with questions and objections being raised by parents, school boards and teachers across the country.  This CDC report was based on a scientific paper published January 26, 2021 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).  This review finds that as schools have been reopening in areas of the country, “there is little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community infection.”   Several case studies and analysis of schools being the cause of COVID infections clearly indicated a significant lower cause of infection in schools than for children contacting COVID while at home and in the community.

The resulting controversy over this CDC guidance led to the conclusion that before it would be published as guidance, CDC officials would elaborate on specific standards to uniformly ensure effective protection in schools.  For example, ventilation requirements, spacing between desks and people walking in hallways.  Many teacher unions have also asked for this guidance to include vaccinations for all teachers and adult school staff.  Part of the controversy is based on the lack of explanation of these scientific facts in advance.  “The degree to which people will follow regulations is acceptance by the governed to be governed.”   The good news is a recognition that while remote K-12 learning is setting students back, and is creating some mental health problems, science is indicating a return to classroom teaching is possible and may soon be acceptable.

  1. Red vs. blue states– different approaches – and results – to vaccinations

       Q:  Why did police have to be called for some people wanting to be vaccinated?

       A:  In New York state, people over the age of 65 can make an appointment and many CVS pharmacies offer vaccinations.  A central CVS application is available in NY to make appointments.  Several in NY used that CVS application and were scheduled to be vaccinated – at a CVS store in Connecticut!  Last Thursday, a group with appointments took the Cross Sound Ferry between Orient, NY and New London, CT.  When they arrived at the CVS pharmacy in Waterford, CT, they were denied their vaccinations.  After protesting, the local police were summoned.  Chief Brett Mahoney had to explain all vaccinations administered in Connecticut were limited to people who lived in or worked in this state.  This is justified because doses sent to each state were limited, and each state had to preserve their allocation for its own people.  It was reported that everyone who was denied were quite unhappy.  In the end, they returned home at their own expense to seek vaccinations within New York.  One remembers back when three states – Connecticut, New York and New Jersey agreed to avoid cross-state competition by planning as a consortium.   Apparently, this was limited to testing and personal protective equipment (PPE), but not vaccinations.  It was also learned that New York and Connecticut have defined their prioritization for vaccinations differently – New York allowed people over age 65 to be vaccinated weeks ago, while in Connecticut it was limited to those over age 75.

A recent examination of the ways states are implementing vaccine policies shows separate degrees of effectiveness correlated between “blue states” and “red states.”  States with Democratic governors tend to develop procedures, guidelines, plans and priorities to guide the distribution and giving the shots to people.  States with Republican governors tend to focus on the goal: getting as many vaccinations done as soon as possible without creating elaborate plans.  A state-by-state analysis shows that many red states often have conflicts such as some sites having to destroy doses which have been thawed and unused beyond the time allowed.  Or people waiting in line for hours or longer without being able to be vaccinated.  On the other hand, many blue states find their processes are confusing and restrictive.  Examples include difficulty making appointments, and groups having to wait until their priority emerges qualifying them for shots.  The CVS example above illustrates the restrictive sharing of resources across state lines.  While both groups have difficulties with their vaccination programs, the trend is emerging that red states on a per capita basis are vaccinating more people than blue states.

[1] To open this website, copy the entire URL (underlined and in blue), and paste it in your internet browser.

“What If…?” — UUS:E Virtual Worship, February 7, 2021

Gathering Music (begins at 9:50)

Welcome (Martha Larson, co-chair Sunday Services Committee)

Announcements

Introduction and Centering

Prelude

“Pure Imagination”
by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse c.1971 for
“Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”
vocalist, Janet Desmarais
producers, Dan Thompson and Janet Desmarais

Chalice Lighting and Opening Words 

“Let This Be a Place”
by Sharon Wylie:

Let this be the place you consider what you’ve never considered;
Let this be the place you imagine for yourself something new and unthinkable.
May this hour bring dreams of new ways of being in the world.
Come, let us worship together. 

Opening Hymn

“The Lone Wild Bird”
Words by H. R. MacFayden, music from William Walker’s “Southern Harmony”
#15 in Singing the Living Tradition
Led by Jeannette LeSure

The lone, wild bird in lofty flight
is still with thee, nor leaves thy sight.
And I am thine! I rest in thee.
Great spirit come and rest in me.

The ends of earth are in thy hand,
the sea’s dark deep and far-off land.
And I am thine! I rest in thee.
Great spirit come and rest in me.

Sharing Joys and Concerns

Musical Interlude (Mary Bopp)

Prayer and Silent Meditation (from the Rev. Sara LaWall, spoken by Martha Larson)

Spirit of life and love, holy mystery
How do we pray for hope?
How do we bow down or look up
or sit in silence or walk among the trees
to make hope come alive,
when it feels so far beyond our grasp?
We breathe. We look within. We listen. We reach out.
We hold in the depths of our heart, that knowing
That hope is a gift we cannot destroy
It is the heartbeat always stirring within us
It is the imagination awakening to us to possibility
It is the unfolding of faith in action
May we hold on to hope
And carry it for one another
and for this broken and hurting world
May we be vessels of comfort and compassion
May we be vessels of peace and justice
May we be vessels of hope and healing
May love prevail.
In the name of all that is holy, we pray, Amen.

Offering

Offering Music

“Imagine”
by John Lennon
read by Jeannette LeSure

“Imagine (John Lennon)/Peace Like a River”(Marvin V. Frey)
(arr. by Mary Bopp)

Readings (read by Wayne Starkey)

Homily “What If? Part 1  (Jeannette LeSure)

Readings (read by Kathy Ayers)

Homily “What If?” Part 2 (Jeannette LeSure)

Closing Song

“Just Imagine”
by Matt Falkowski

Just imagine, just imagine, just imagine a little love.
Just imagine, just imagine, just imagine a little love.
I’m gonna bring a little love. And you can bring a little love.
We’ll put our love together cuz a little means a lot.
The world would be a better place  when love is what we’ve got.
Let’s all bring a little love.

Just imagine, just imagine, just imagine a little peace….

Just imagine, just imagine, just imagine a little hope….

Let’s all bring a little hope.

Let’s all bring a little peace.

Let’s all bring a little love.

Extinguishing the Chalice

Closing Words (adapted from Rev. Michael A. Schuler)

We have reached the end of this time together
For letting the imagination play with future possibilities…
Shall it be concluded, then?
What if this adventure, now commenced, continues?
What if this ending is not an ending,
But a prelude to new, more glorious beginnings?
May it be so.

Closing Circle

May faith in the spirit of life
And hope for the community of Earth
And love of the light in each other
Be ours now, and in all the days to come.

Postlude

Coffee Hour / Break Out Rooms

 

Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 – February 3, 2021

“Shared expectations lead to predictability.”

201. National COVID-19 Strategic Plan – (Part 2 of 8)

        Q: What’s in the new United States strategic plan for controlling this pandemic?

        A: On January 21, 2021, Joe Biden released the National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness. This week’s summary gives details about Goal 1 – restoring trust.

To rebuild the trust of the American people, there must be clear public leadership shown and a “whole-of-government” response that puts science first. The commitment is made:
• To establish responses that are driven by science and equity;
• To conduct regular expert-led science-based public briefings;
• Openly share with everyone accurate data and public health guidance;
• Engage state / local government officials and citizens to guide policy decisions; and
• Lead science-first public health educational campaigns.

The goal will create uniform and scientifically accurate policies and procedures throughout the federal government, and communicate these to the public. In a word, it offers “shared expectations that can result in predictability” as this pandemic is controlled and eliminated.

Next week: Details about Goal 2 – An effective, comprehensive vaccination campaign.

202. Issues with vaccination registration – as of February 1, 2021

        Q. Has anything changed since last week on how we can get vaccinated?

        A: The primary issue that remains is developing coordination and control processes after the vaccine doses arrive in the state. Three areas of planning remain unfinished:
• Coordinated procedures for people to make appointments;
• Predictable number of doses being received by the state; and
• Timely arrival of doses arriving at vaccination sites to satisfy appointments.

The first of these is presently a significant problem. It is slowly being addressed. There are two state-level portals to make appointments. The Connecticut Vaccine Line on the phone is: (877) 918-2224. Also, the now official “Vaccination Administration Management System” (VAMS) website.

https://dphsubmissions.ct.gov/OnlineVaccine
Other states have their own phone and/or website access which can be easily identified.

Initially, both these access points were not known or were overwhelmed. The longest reported wait to get through was more than six hours! Coordination remains unavailable between these sites and the expanding number of local clinics that are separately scheduling appointments. If you register on the state website and later decide to call a particular vaccination sponsor and make an appointment, the state website will not learn of this. You will be constantly reminded to make an appointment. In Connecticut, it was reported that 80 more phones have now been added to its phone bank. The average wait is now allegedly only 3 minutes. Some systems do not have the ability to search site availability based on distance from your location. When making an appointment and entering your ZIP Code, a months-long wait may appear before an appointment is available. Instead, re-enter another nearby town ZIP Code instead. There may well be vacant spots in other clinics that are not that far away from your home.

The problem of unpredictable number of doses being received in each state should now be resolved. The federal government recently announced that each state would be told three weeks in advance what their weekly allotments will be.

Distributing enough doses to each clinic to match their appointments is still a problem. Many clinics have reported they have doses left over that might have to be destroyed. On the other hand, last week in Waterbury and at the UConn Health Center, appointments were cancelled because they ran out of doses. It was reported they had “overbooked” their schedule. It was not clear if this was because appointments were made at separate locations without coordination, or if appointments were made without matching them against anticipated supplies. More work on this is needed.

It is frustrating for people to wait several weeks only to learn later that neighbors got an appointment in just a few days. Even more frustrating is to have an appointment cancelled. Another example of unpredictable results when expectations are not shared.

203. Concerns about the emerging variants or mutations of coronavirus-19

        Q: What’s all the concern about mutations of the virus? The statistics are so confusing.

        A: The concerns focus on three variables:
• How the mutations allow the virus to spread more rapidly to more people;
• The degree to which the resulting disease could be more severe or deadly, and
• The effectiveness of vaccines to prevent infections, serious disease or death.

Mutations occur when a virion enters a human cell in which it replicates or multiplies. A few of these next generation virions may not replicate exactly from the original, and are called mutations. Many of these variant cells do not affect the ability of the virion to infect others or change the course of the resulting disease. But if a mutation enables the virion a more rapid entry into cells, that mutation is replicated. The increase in the number of mutated cells then greatly increases the viral load in a single patient. As the number of mutant virions are exhaled and become exposed to other people, they are more easily taken in by that healthy person’s cell. This causes a rapidly increasing number of new patients with that variant. Michael Osterholm, MD, professor at the University of Minnesota and a member of President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 Advisory Board states that the UK variant will become the predominate strain in the U.S. by March of this year.

There are now three variant strains of coronavirus identified in America. Testing and research is expanding. Current data is not yet conclusive, but one consensus has been reached. The two vaccines now approved along with Johnson and Johnson coming up for approval may be less effective in preventing infection from the variant from South Africa. But vaccines are markedly more effective in preventing serious illness and death. The resulting guidance: regardless of which vaccine is available, when eligible, get vaccinated!

Vaccines reduce infections, which in turn reduces replication and expanding mutations.

204. Face masks required when taking public transportation – penalties may apply.

        Q: What are the details of the requirement to wear masks on planes, trains, buses, etc?

        A: On January 21, president Biden signed the “Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel.” The CDC followed up by issuing an order on January 25 that defines in detail where all passengers over 2 years old must wear masks: while getting on, riding in or leaving: airplanes, trains, buses, subways, ships, ferries, taxis, and rideshare (e.g., Uber). The mandate also includes when passengers are in transportation hubs including airports, train and subway stations, bus and ferry terminals, seaports and ports of entry. These mandates were ordered to begin February 2. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) followed on January 31 by announcing that effective  Tuesday, February 2, through May 11, anyone refusing to wear a mask in airports will be denied access to boarding safety checkpoints. If any person is found not wearing a face mask within airports, they will be subject to penalties. This could result in substantial fines for “attempting to circumvent screening requirements,” and “interfering with screening personnel.” Darby LaJoy, an administrative official from TSA said, “This will prevent further spread of COVID-19 and encourage unified government response,”

205. Biden government contracts for millions of at-home tests to be manufactured

        Q: What’s the latest on rapid COVID tests that can be taken at home?

        A: On Monday, February 1, senior White House advisor Andy Slavitt announced that the Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services have awarded a $230 million contract to the Australian company Ellume, to manufacture great numbers of over-the-counter, at-home rapid COVID tests. The test was authorized by the FDA in December. Other in-home tests have been authorized. These others either require the samples being sent to a lab resulting in a delay, or have proven to be less accurate. The Ellume test is 95% accurate and delivers results in about 15 minutes. The nasal swab can be self-performed, and the sample is put into a small digital analyzer. The results are then sent to a smartphone. The test is appropriate for all people ages 2 and older. It can be obtained at a pharmacy without a prescription. Initially, starting in February, the U. S. government will initially receive only 100,000 tests per month. The contract will allow Ellume to scale up production to a level of 19 million kits per month by the end of the year. (8.5 million per month of these are reserved for the U.S. Government.)