Coronavirus Preparedness at UUS:E

Special Message — Coronavirus

Unitarian Universalist Society: East is suspending all large-group programming at the meetinghouse until further notice. This suspension includes Sunday morning services and religious educationFor now, we are postponing or canceling any events or meetings with more than ten people. Click here for more information.

Dear Unitarian Universalist Society: East Members and Friends:

While the coronavirus has not yet been detected in Connecticut, health officials anticipate that it will arrive in the coming weeks, and it is therefore quite prominent in the public consciousness. Given this prominence, the UUS:E Emergency Preparedness Team and I wanted to share the following message with you.

Usually in winter, we encourage behaviors to guard against the flu or other airborne illnesses. Washing hands often. Sneezing and coughing into our flexed elbow. Staying home when sick, avoiding hand-shakes,  “touching a shoulder,” rather than taking hands. These are exactly the behaviors health officials are recommending in response to the coronavirus.

Some practical guidance:

If you are sick, stay home – from work, from school, from UUS:E. You care not only for yourself this way, you care for those with whom you would otherwise come into contact. Not everybody you encounter has a strong immune system. 

Reach out by phone or email to let someone know if you are ill ~ that includes your minister if you’d like. Just because you are sick, doesn’t mean you have to be isolated. Depending on how prevalent the virus becomes, we may be doing a lot of communicating via phone and email. 

Wash your hands often, Ideally with non-anti-bacterial soap and running water.  If that is not available, then alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Maintain a social distance of three or more feet from someone who is coughing or showing other symptoms; check in with that person to see if they need help to ensure they are getting what they need to recover.

 Notice how often you touch your face – we all touch our faces way more than we realize. Our awareness may help reduce this behavior, which is one of the ways any virus is spread. 

What will happen at UUS:E?

UUS:E is beginning to take steps that will sensitize all of us to the need to be prepared and vigilant. As a starting point, we have asked the Sunday Services Committee and the Religious Education Director to request that we refrain from holding hands for the closing circle at the end of our Sunday services and children’s worship. We will likely consider other measures in the near future. For now, we believe this one measure will help us prepare emotionally for further potential changes should they become necessary. And not holding hands really does help prevent the spread of disease!

Also, as I said at services on March 1, UUS:E takes guidance from the town of Manchester, whose emergency response department takes guidance from state emergency and health officials, which takes guidance from the Department of Homeland Security and the Centers for Disease Control. If the town of Manchester closes municipal offices and schools, they will also issue a strong recommendation that congregations cease public operations as well. We fully intend to follow any such recommendation from the town should it be issued. Of course, we hope it doesn’t come to that, but should we need to do our part, we will absolutely do our part.

One of the ways we would like to take care of each other if we aren’t able to meet in person (which would also be relevant when there is inclement weather) is to figure out ways to share resources, sermons, RE class content and other materials virtually. We don’t currently have a system in place to do this. But we’re beginning to look into it.

We also encourage you to familiarize yourself with the wonderful online services of our Unitarian Universalist Church of the Larger Fellowship (CLF) here.  CLF has weekly services on Sunday evenings at 8pm Eastern that you can participate in “live” and can take in at any time after they’ve occurred.

There’s more you can do. One piece of advice we have been consistently encountering is to stock up on your regular medicines if possible. This will help if, for any reason, you aren’t able to get to the pharmacy for an extended period of time. More practical information and planning advice from the Center for Disease Control can be found here.

You can also find up-to-date information about where the coronavirus is appearing here.

Lastly, if your anxiety about this, or anything else going on in the world, is at a breaking point, or if you’re just feeling too much, please know you are not alone. We encourage you to reach out to someone you trust. Reach out to the UUS:E office, Rev. Josh or one of the Pastoral Friends listed in the UUS:E directory. Risk connection. We’re all in this together.

With Love,

Rev. Josh and the UUS:E Emergency Preparedness Team