“We Remember” — UUS:E Virtual Worship, May 29, 2022

Gathering Music (Mary Bopp) (Begins at 10:50)

Welcome and Announcements

Centering

Prelude

Ashokan Farewell
by Jay Ungar
Performed by Mary Bopp

Chalice Lighting & Opening Words

Introduction to the Service

Opening Hymn

“Here We Have Gathered”
#360 in Singing the Living Tradition
Words by Alicia S. Carpenter
Music by Genevan Psalter, 1543

Here we have gathered, gathered side by side;
circle of kinship, come and step inside!
May all who seek here find a kindly word;
may all who speak here feel they have been heard.
Sing now together this, our hearts’ own song.

Here we have gathered, called to celebrate
days of our lifetime, matters small and great:
we of all ages, women, children, men,
infants and sages, sharing what we can.
Sing now together this, our hearts’ own song.

Life has its battles, sorrows, and regret:
but in the shadows, let us not forget:
we who now gather know each other’s pain;
kindness can heal us: as we give, we gain.
Sing now in friendship this, our hearts’ own song.

Joys and Concerns

Musical Response (Mary Bopp)

Offering

The recipients of our May community outreach offering are MARC, Inc. and MARCH, Inc.
MARC, Inc. provides advocacy, employment, residential, respite, and retirement services to
individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. MARCH, Inc. provides residential
programs and supportive living programs to people with intellectual and other developmental
disabilities.

Offertory Music

“Tenting on the Old Campground”
Written by Walter Kittredge, 1863
Performed by Alan Ayers, Martha Larson

First Speaker (Martha Larson)

Musical Response (Mary Bopp)

Second Speaker (Sande Hartdagen)

Sharing Remembrances

Musical Response

Responsive Reading

“We Remember Them”
#720 in Singing the Living Tradition
by Roland B. Gittelsohn [Adapted]

In the rising of the sun and in its going down, we remember them.
In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter, we remember them.
In the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring, we remember them.
In the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer, we remember them.
In the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn, we remember them.
In the beginning of the year and when it ends, we remember them.
When we are weary and in need of strength, we remember them.
When we are lost and sick at heart, we remember them.
When we have joys we yearn to share, we remember them.
So long as we live, they too shall live, for they are now a part of us, as we remember them.

Closing Hymn

“This Is My Song”
#159 in Singing the Living Tradition
Words by Lloyd Stone
Music by Jean Sibelius

This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine;
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine;
but other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations,
a song of peace for their land and for mine.

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.

Postlude (Mary Bopp)

Virtual Coffee Hour with Breakout Rooms

Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 — May 25, 2022

“Shared expectations lead to predictability.”

546.   New York City is experiencing a “Fifth Wave” of Covid-19.

         QEverything looks like we are returning to normal.  Is this true??

         A:  No.  New York City is experiencing a steady, slow increase in the number of cases of Covid-19, much like Connecticut has been having.  Jonathan Wolfe, a reporter with the New York Times ran a story last week that reflected on the current round of increasing cases, including the even more transmissible subvariant BA.2.12.1 making up three-quarters of new cases in New York, New Jersey, and Puerto Rico as of mid-May, according to the CDC.  He notes that the rise this time has been building much more gradually compared with the first Omicron wave a few months back. But there are a lot of viruses circulating right now and the numbers keep climbing. Currently, we’re seeing more than 4,000 confirmed cases a day, but those official numbers dramatically undercount how many people are sick because they don’t incorporate at-home tests.

New Covid hospitalizations are at about 150 a day. For comparison, in early January, there were a couple of days when it was over a thousand.  CDC research suggests that nearly a third of the city was probably infected during the Omicron wave in January and December. So presumably a lot of New Yorkers have more protection now against severe forms of the disease. Also, more people have received their booster shots. And the antiviral pill Paxlovid is making a difference, too.

547.  Community wastewater surveillance show increasing numbers of infections.

         Q:  Are they still testing wastewater to find how much Covid is spreading in communities?

         A:  Many people who are now contracting Covid-19 are having mild symptoms, are found positive from take-home tests, and recovering without contacting a hospital or taking a PCR laboratory test.  Thus, they are not counted in any statistics.  But health officials in several parts of the United States are seeing worrisome signals in wastewater surveillance data that the coronavirus may be spreading more widely than reported tallies would indicate, and that a steeper wave may be coming.  Wastewater surveillance provides only a broad-brush picture of virus prevalence in a particular community, but the readings it gives are close to real-time. So, health officials are looking to wastewater data for early warning of trends.

In Maine, state health officials have been seeing a surge “for a while,” Mike Abbott, a primary analyst on wastewater screening for the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Thursday. He noted that the increase in cases began in mid-April, with the incline getting steeper in May.  A New York Times database shows that Maine recorded a sharp upward trend in cases in the last week of April and into May that reached levels the state saw during the Delta surge at the end of August.

548.  Australia’s death rate is 10% of what we have in the U.S.

         Q:  Do other countries have as high a Covid death rate as we do? 

         A:  On May 16, just as 1,000,000 deaths have been recorded in the U.S., the New York Times published a story that stated “if the United States had the same Covid death rate as Australia, about 900,000 lives would have been saved.”  For many Americans, imagining what might have been may be unthinkable, but especially now, the nations that did a better job of keeping people alive show what Americans could have done differently and what might still need to change.

The two countries are alike in many ways.  Both are English-speaking democracies with similar demographic profiles. In Australia and in the United States, the median age is 38.  Roughly 86% of Australians live in urban areas, compared with 83% of Americans.  Yet Australia’s Covid death rate sits at one-tenth of America’s, putting that nation of 25 million people near the top of global rankings in the protection of life.

The primary factor that made the difference between the two countries is a lifesaving trait that most Australians display.  In contrast, Americans have shown they lack trust in science and institutions, and especially in each other.  In global surveys, Australians were more likely than Americans to agree that “most people can be trusted” — a major factor, in getting people to change their behavior for the common good.  Australians have shown they are better at combating Covid by a willingness to reduce their movements, wear masks, and get vaccinated.  Partly because of that compliance, which kept the virus more in check, Australia’s economy has grown faster than America’s through the pandemic.  But of greater importance is interpersonal trust — a belief that others would do what was right not just for the individual but for the community.  That has saved lives.

549.  More transmissible subvariants are in South Africa – a future portent for us.

         Q:  Are there any new variants out there coming our way?

         A:  National Geographic recently reported that two newer subvariants of Omicron are again causing a surge of Covid-19 cases in South Africa.  Studies show that these new subvariants are so different from the original version of Omicron that immunity generated from a previous infection may not provide much protection.  Dubbed BA.4 and BA.5, the new subvariants are nearly identical to each other, and both are more transmissible than the Omicron BA.2 subvariant.  In South Africa, they replaced the BA.3 strain in less than a month. They are now responsible for a spike in South Africa’s COVID-19 cases, which has tripled since mid-April.  “If you were unvaccinated, what you got is almost no immunity to BA.4 and BA.5,” says Alex Sigal, a virologist at the Africa Health Research Institute and at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. “There might be some immunity that may be enough to protect against severe disease, but not sufficient to protect against symptomatic infection.”

For now, the subvariant known as BA.2.12.1 remains dominant in the U.S., causing new hospitalizations to spike recently by more than 17 percent nationally and by as much as 28 percent in the Great Lakes area, and Washington D.C.  But these new subvariants have already spread to more than 20 countries across North America, Asia, and Europe.  If the experience in South Africa is a forecast for the U.S., we may have to react again to surges by this Fall.  The lack of Congress continuing its funding for Covid mitigation could lead to dramatic consequences.

550.  Monkey Pox cases are increasing, but it is not related to Covid-19.

         Q:  What is this “monkey Pox” I’m hearing about – a new mutation of Covid?

         A:  Monkeypox is a more benign version of the smallpox virus and can be treated with an antiviral drug developed for smallpox. Unlike measles, Covid or influenza, it does not typically cause large outbreaks.  Infection begins with fever and body aches. Its most recognizable feature is a characteristic rash that starts with flat red marks, then becomes raised and filled with pus.

In the past few weeks, Britain has identified nine monkeypox cases, Spain has 23 suspected cases, and Canada is investigating at least 15 possible cases in Montreal.

In Britain, only one patient had recently traveled — to Nigeria, where a strain of the monkeypox virus has been commonly seen — while the remaining patients may have acquired the infection through community transmission.

The virus can spread via body fluids, contaminated objects, or respiratory droplets expelled by an infected person. The cases in Britain and Canada were mostly spread among sexual partners.  Monkeypox is typically spread through bites or scratches from rodents and small mammals — not, despite its name, from monkeys. Risk factors also include contact with animals through hunting or consumption of wild game or bush meat.

“Self-Discovery….Kinda’ fun” — UUS:E Virtual Worship, May 22, 2022

Gathering Music: (Mary Bopp)

Welcome: (Teagan MabrySmith)

Announcements: (Rev. Josh Pawelek)

Centering: (Teagan MabrySmith)

Prelude:

“Sound of Silence”
Written by Paul Simon
Performed by Mary Bopp

Chalice Lighting & Opening Words: (Logan Breen)
Words from Anais Nin

Opening Hymn:

“Enter, Rejoice, and Come In”
Words and music by Louise Ruspini
#361 in Singing the Living Tradition
Led by Sandy Johnson

Words from Gianna Dimaiolo, Affirmation Advisor

Credo Statements and Responses – Part I

           Teagan MabrySmith & Sham ElShakhs  

            Max Pawelek & Jeff Schlechtweg

Hymn

“Meditation on Breathing”
Words and music by Sarah Dan Jones
#1009 in Singing the Journey
Led by Sandy Johnson

Moment of Silence & Candle Lighting: (Max Pawelek)

Offering: (Gina Campellone)

The recipients of our May community outreach offering are MARC, Inc. and MARCH, Inc. MARC, Inc. of Manchester is an organization that supports people with disabilities, empowering them to live, work, and enjoy all their community has to offer. Through the provision of many support services, their clients become able to live their lives to the fullest according to their individual goals and dreams. MARCH, Inc. serves people with developmental disabilities in greater Manchester and supports their families in a number of ways.

Offering Music:

“My Blood”
Written by twenty one pilots
Performed by Kate Howard-Bender, Casey Campellone, Ryan Ford, Logan Breen

Credo Statements and Responses – Part II

            Graham Bornhorst & Jason Corsa

            Casey Campellone & Kate Howard-Bender

Musical Interlude: (Mary Bopp)

Meditation:

“Marginal Wisdom”
Written by Rev. Leslie Takahashi
Read by Graham Bornhorst

Musical Interlude: (Mary Bopp)

Credo Statements and Responses- Part III

            Logan Breen & Ryan Ford

Musical Interlude: (Mary Bopp)

Josh’s Reflection

Affirmation Ceremony:

            Presentation of Celebrants

            Giving of the Chalices

            Congregational Affirmation (insert)

Introductions

Wishes from Gina, Director of Religious Education

Closing Hymn

“Spirit of Life”
Words and music by Carolyn McDade
#123 in Singing the Living Tradition
Led by Sandy Johnson

Extinguishing the Chalice: (Casey Campellone)

“Spirit of Life and Love”
by Sue Ayer (adapted)

Closing Circle (Casey Campellone)

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:

“Three Little Birds”
Words and music by Bob Marley
Performed by Kate Howard-Bender and friends

Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 — May, 18, 2022

“Shared expectations lead to predictability.”

541.   Questionnaire Result #1 – The pace of changing restrictions is explored.

         QHow many members of our congregation want to lift all restrictions quickly?

         A:  Our UUS:E congregation feels comfortable with the pace we have been changing restrictions to match the rise and fall as risks fluctuate.  The number who want to go slower is almost as large as the group who want to go faster.  This is the conclusion of one analysis made from the questionnaire conducted in April.

The UUS:E Emergency Preparedness Task Force decided to determine how the congregation views their comfort levels on a series of actions we may be taking.  In April, a questionnaire was developed and copies were sent out to members and friends of the church.  After nearly 2 weeks, 147 people had returned replies.  In the narrative sections, where respondents used their own words to convey their thoughts, 51 commented on their view of the pace we have been moving toward a return to normal.  The majority, 27 of those responses, felt the current pace was good.  Rating the pace as needing to go faster were 14 and needing to go slower were 10.  The conclusion was reached that “In the future, these respondents would likely accept changes that would be slightly less restrictive than we had made before.  But that edge is narrow, and dramatic moves to remove or impose restrictions would not be possible.  Those on either side can easily see that not everyone feels the same way that they do.  This analysis will be used as we develop future changes to our policies.”    

542.  Hospitals that treat the uninsured face a financial crisis.

         Q:  How long will federal funding cover the costs of care for Covid-19?

         A:  In a recent New York Times article, Noah Weiland, health reporter in the Washington office, defined a fiscal crisis hospitals are starting to face as federal funds for pandemic aid is drying up.  Previously, billions of dollars in aid not only guaranteed that uninsured Covid patients would not face medical bills during the pandemic, it also offered a lifeline for financially stressed institutions that provide extensive uncompensated care for the poor.  This infusion of aid is now ending.  Doctors and nurses say that a wide range of health problems that worsened during the pandemic are now overwhelming hospitals.  And by law, patients without the ability to pay must be treated, raising the costs to hospitals.

This Covid-19 Uninsured Program provided more than $20 billion in reimbursements to roughly 50,000 hospitals, clinics and other providers for testing, vaccinating and treating the uninsured.  A pandemic relief package that has stalled in the Senate will most likely not be passed leaving reimbursements during future Covid waves unlikely.  And the Biden administration’s social policy bill, which would have provided poor adults in states that did not expand Medicaid with access to free coverage, appears all but dead.

543.   A new CDC tool can evaluate cruise ships’ ability to manage Covid.

         Q:  Are all cruise lines operating safely now? 

         A:  The CDC has established a “cruise ship status dashboard.”  This new color-coding system gives travelers information they can use to make informed decisions before choosing to travel. Color status designations indicate the number of COVID-19 cases reported for each ship in the program, whether an investigation is needed, and additional public health measures a ship is taking.

This website can be found at:

https://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/cruise/cruise-ship-color-status.html

But participation is not mandatory and many ships do not appear in this dashboard.  In addition, managing Covid on a ship cannot be compared to how Covid is managed onshore.  On a cruise ship, quarantine usually must be in the stateroom, away from scheduled activities and excursions.  Development of serious cases at home can have care provided in a hospital, of which there are now many available.  On a cruise ship, the medical ward is usually small and limited in the services it can provide.  The number of crew members on board is limited, and if any test positive, they can not help others while they are quarantined.  If tested positive toward the end of the cruise, the passenger will have to leave the ship before the quarantine period is over and complete it in a hotel at their own expense.  Most cruises do not provide compensation for post-cruise quarantines – or for the added costs of the delayed return travel home!

544.  New York City is in a higher CDC category of infection but is not taking action.

         Q: How can I find out if it is safe to visit my brother out west?  I don’t know anything about conditions out there!

         A:  There is now a “Covid-19 Visit Risk Calculator” to help people safely go anywhere.  This includes making a visit, attending a meeting, going to a party, or simply sightseeing.  Vaccination programs against COVID-19 are well underway and various jurisdictions are lifting their previous COVID-19 public health measures. However, COVID-19 remains an important public health issue as it continues to spread in communities around the world, especially with the emergence of variants of concern such as Omicron. As a result, careful assessment before deciding to visit with others remains vitally important.

Using the best available scientific evidence and the input of leading experts in infectious diseases, public health and epidemiology, this website was developed in Toronto, Canada by the Ryerson University’s National Institute on Aging (NIA) to help people of different ages and states of health better understand the factors that affect the risk of getting COVID-19 when visiting others. Many of these same factors also apply to the risk of getting other respiratory infections like influenza.

It takes about 3 minutes to answer this website’s short online risk calculator questions,  The tool can be used at any time for a fresh assessment.  The information you provide to access and use this website is collected anonymously.

You can access this tool at:

My COVID-19 Visit Risk Calculator (2021 – 2022) (covidvisitrisk.com)

545.  Covid-19  is surging faster than our New England neighbors.

         Q:  Are we better or worse with Covid-19 than our neighboring states?

         A:  The New York Times is publishing a daily dashboard tracking the coronavirus in places across the United States.

This can be found at:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/us/covid-cases-deaths-tracker.html

It is interesting to review how Connecticut is doing compared with its neighboring states.

As of May 15, 2022:

 

Daily Cases per 100,000 population 14 day change Daily deaths per 100,000 population 14 day change
Connecticut 53 +105% 0.16 +150%
Massachusetts 61 +56% 0.12 +44%
Rhode Island 72 +59% 0.11 +43%
New York 53 +43% 0.11 +27%

 

All four neighboring states over the past two weeks have seen an increase in the prevalence of cases and deaths within their borders.  But the rates of increase in cases in Connecticut is nearly double that of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and over double that of New York.  The Connecticut rate of deaths is well over 3 times that of other neighboring states.  Connecticut is experiencing a greater surge than our neighboring three states.  If you are eligible, getting a booster shot is of significant importance to prevent infection – even if you are already fully vaccinated.

 

“Hózhó: The Way of Beauty” — UUS:E Virtual Worship, May 15, 2022

Gathering Music (Mary Bopp)

Welcome

Announcements 

Centering

Prelude (Music by Mary Bopp / Paintings by Nancy Madar)

Chalice Lighting

“Earth and All”
by Rev. Dr. David Breeden

We join together,
bringing both our
shadow and our light.
We join together, 
opening our minds
and our hearts.
We join together, 
embracing,
celebrating,
sharing
the beauty of each,
the beauty of self,
the beauty of the earth,
the beauty of all.

Introduction to the Service

Opening Words 

#682 An adaptation of The Beauty Way prayer of the Diné
(Navajo)

Beauty is before me, and
Beauty behind me,
Above me and below me
hovers the beautiful.
I am surrounded by it,
I am immersed in it.
In my youth, I am aware of it,
and in old age,
I shall walk quietly the beautiful trail.
In beauty it is begun.
In beauty, it is ended.

Opening Hymn

#182 O, the Beauty in a Life
Based on text by Bishop Toribio Quimada
Traditional Filipino folk tune

O, the beauty in a life that illumines honor anew,
That models wise and gracious ways to every seeker;
That every day shall serve in joy and do the right.
O, praise the life whose beauty shows a justice true.

Let not service of the good be confined to great saints alone,
But every hour be part of all our daily living.
Set not the hope of wisdom’s grace beyond our ken,
How wide the path, how close the goal, which love has shown.

O, the beauty of a life that illumines care of the soul,
That knows a love that is for self as well as others,
That every day embodies praise for every good,
This is the faith to which we term, our God and goal.

On “Beauty and the Soul” by Piero Ferrucci (Stacey Musulin)

Musical Interlude (Mary Bopp)

Joys and Concerns

Musical Response (Mary Bopp)

Offering

The recipients of our May community outreach offering are MARC, Inc. and MARCH, Inc.
MARC, Inc. provides advocacy, employment, residential, respite and retirement services to
individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. MARCH, Inc. provides residential
programs and supportive living programs to people with intellectual and other developmental
disabilities.

Offertory Music

“What a Wonderful World”
by Bob Thiele & George David Weiss
Sung by Michelle Spadaccini

On Poetry (Marsha Howland)

Reflections on My Creative Journey (Nancy Madar)

Closing Hymn

#326 “Let All the Beauty We Have Known”
Words by Dana McLean Greeley
Music adapted by Ralph Vaughan Williams

Let all the beauty we have known illuminate our hearts and minds
Rejoice in wonders daily shown, in faith and joy, and love that binds.

We celebrate with singing hearts the loveliness of sky and earth,
the inspiration of the arts, the miracle of ev’ry birth.

Life’s music and its poetry surround and bless us through our days.
for these we sing in harmony, together giving thanks and praise. 

Closing Prayer

“The Beauty Woven Fine”
by Rev. Scott Tayler

As we celebrate life’s beauty
may we never forget that we are part of it.
It is woven around us,
through us,
between us.
We are here to notice those elegant strands – 
The way they call to us,
The way they hold us,
The way they connect us.
May our time together today
enable that beauty to shine. 

Extinguishing the Chalice

Closing Words

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)

 

Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 — May 11, 2022

“Shared expectations lead to predictability.”

536.   Remote learning during the pandemic has reduced learning by 5-10 year-olds.

         QAre there studies that show the difference between learning remotely and in-person classes?

         A:  At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March, 2020, schools everywhere closed.  Remote learning became the national policy.  Some months later, many areas of the country resumed in-person classes.  In many other areas, classes remained online for months.  This created a huge experiment, testing how well remote learning worked.

The Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University released a study called the Consequences of Remote and Hybrid Instruction during the Pandemic.  The study examined student scores in the standardized Measure of Academic Progress test, which measures reading and math capabilities and is given in grades K through 5th grade.

Students who stayed home for most of 2020-21 fared much worse than those who returned to in-person classes. On average, they lost the equivalent of about 50 percent of a typical school year’s math learning during the study’s two-year window.

The findings are consistent with other studies. “It’s pretty clear that remote school was not good for learning,” said Emily Oster, a Brown University economist and co-author of another related study.

One of the most alarming findings is that school closures widened both economic and racial inequality in learning.  Pre-pandemic, math, and reading skills improved, especially for Black and Latino students.  The Covid closures have reversed much of that progress.  Low-income students, as well as Black and Latino students, fell further behind than students who are high-income, white, or Asian. “This will probably be the largest increase in educational inequity in a generation,” stated Thomas Kane, an author of the Harvard study.

There are two main reasons. First, schools with large numbers of poor students were more likely to go remote.  Second, low-income students tended to fare even worse when schools went remote. They may not have had reliable internet access, a quiet room in which to work, or a parent who could take time off from work to help solve problems.

537.  A major research effort is launched to study long Covid.

         Q:  What causes long Covid?

         A:  It is well-known that what we don’t understand enhances fear.  Since the pandemic began, we have all learned there are long-term consequences that sometimes occur after a patient recovers from the acute phase of Covid-19. This phenomenon appears in so many different ways, lasts from weeks to longer than a year, and is so unpredictable in its outcomes that the resulting fear of its consequences demands answers.  The answer – many answers – are the goal of a new initiative being undertaken with the start of a major research project called “Researching Covid to Enhance Recovery” (RECOVER). The National Institutes of Health (NIH) received funding from the American Rescue Plan to create this project, and the parent award of $470 million has been given to New York University (NYU) Langone Health based in New York City.  Multiple sub-awards to more than 100 researchers at more than 30 institutions will be made.  This major new award to NYU Langone supports extensive studies of Covid-19 survivors.

NIH launched RECOVER to learn why some people have prolonged symptoms or develop new or returning symptoms after the acute phase of the infection The most common symptoms include pain, headaches, fatigue, “brain fog,” shortness of breath, anxiety, depression, fever, chronic cough, and sleep problems.  “We know some people have had their lives completely upended by the major long-term effects of Covid-19,” said Francis Collins, MD, NIH Director, when announcing the award. “These studies will aim to determine the cause and find much-needed answers to prevent this often-debilitating condition and help those who suffer move toward recovery.”

538.   The FDA limits the use of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

         Q:  What is happening to the J & J authorization for its vaccine? 

         A:  On May 5, 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration limited the authorized use of the Johnson and Johnson Covid-19 vaccine to individuals 18 years of age and older for whom other authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccines are not accessible or clinically appropriate and to individuals 18 years of age and older who elect to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because they would otherwise not receive a COVID-19 vaccine.  The FDA has determined the risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), a syndrome of rare but potentially life-threatening blood clots.  This in combination with low levels of blood platelets with the onset of symptoms after about two weeks following administration of J&J vaccine, warrants limiting the authorized use of the vaccine.

The FDA and CDC have identified 60 confirmed cases, including nine fatalities. The FDA has determined that the reporting rate of TTS is 3.23 per million doses of vaccine administered and the reporting rate of TTS deaths is 0.48 per million doses of vaccine administered.  Examples of individuals who may still receive the J & J Covid-19 vaccine include:  individuals who experienced an anaphylactic reaction after receipt of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, individuals who have personal concerns with receiving mRNA vaccines and would otherwise not receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and individuals who would remain unvaccinated for COVID-19 due to limited access to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.

539.  New York City is in a higher CDC category of infection but is not taking action.

         Q: Does the government have to follow CDC guidelines?

         A:  New York City entered a higher risk level for the coronavirus on Monday, May 2, 2022, a troubling reminder that the pandemic is not over and that the virus still has the power to harm.  The city moved into the medium, or yellow, risk category as cases continued their steady rise, a development that could trigger the return of public health restrictions, although they are not required to be reinstated at this point.  The new CDC guidelines recommend individual, not governmental actions.  Case levels in New York and around the country are probably much higher than the official statistics because many residents are testing at home, and positive at-home tests are not typically included in official tallies.

State health officials recently announced a troubling new development: two new versions of the subvariant — BA.2.12 and BA.2.12.1, which appear to spread more rapidly than BA.2 — seem to be behind steep case increases in upstate New York, where more than 30 counties, including those that contain Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Binghamton, have already entered the high community transmission level, according to the CDC.

Dr. Jay Varma, the director of the Cornell Center for Pandemic Prevention and Response, said that he was skeptical about the utility of the alert level, because changes to it do not trigger actual policy shifts, and because it doesn’t take into account the rate at which things are worsening.

540.  New subvariants BA-4 and BA-5 are identified in South Africa.

         Q:  Are we seeing an end to mutations of Covid-19?

         A:  No.  Coronavirus cases are surging again in South Africa, and public health experts are monitoring the situation.  South Africa experienced a decline in cases after hitting an Omicron-fueled, pandemic peak in December. But health officials have said in the past week, cases have tripled, positivity rates are up and hospitalizations have also increased.  The surge has the country facing a possible fifth wave.  The spike is linked to BA.4 And BA.5, two new subvariants that are part of the Omicron variant.  Tulio de Oliveira, director of South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal Research and Innovation Sequencing Platform, said that BA.4 and BA.5 demonstrate how the virus is evolving differently as global immunity increases.

“What we are seeing now, or at least maybe the first signs, is not completely new variants emerging, but current variants are starting to create lineages of themselves,” Dr. de Oliveira said. Since its initial identification in South Africa and Botswana last November, Omicron has produced several subvariants.  Some scientists are trying to understand how the BA.4 and BA.5 are affected by the immunity from previous Covid 19 infections in South Africa.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 — May 4, 2022

“Shared expectations lead to predictability.”

531.   China’s attempts to eliminate Covid’s spread are unusually extreme.

         QHave other countries accepted the notion that Covid-19 will become endemic?

         A:  No.  The New York Times recently reported that in China, parents have organized petitions, imploring the government not to separate children infected with coronavirus from their families. Residents have confronted officials over containment policies that they see as inhumane, then shared videos of the arguments online.  As the coronavirus races through Shanghai, in that city’s worst outbreak since the pandemic began, the authorities have deployed their usual autocratic playbook to stamp out Covid-19, no matter the cost. What has been different is the outpouring of public dissatisfaction rarely seen in China.

The crisis in Shanghai is shaping up to be more than just a public health challenge. It is also a political test of this zero-tolerance approach on which the Communist Party has staked its legitimacy.  For much of the past two years, the Chinese government has stifled domestic criticism of its Covid strategy, using a mixture of censorship, arrests, and its previous success at keeping caseloads low.   But in Shanghai, which has recorded more than 70,000 cases since March 1, that is proving increasingly more difficult.

This scenario is now just beginning in the capital city of Beijing.  The intolerance of China’s government is shown when only seventy people tested positive in the city’s 3.5 million population caused an order to have every citizen in 11 of its 16 districts in Beijing take 3 separate PCR Covid tests over the next 5 days.  Knowing the harsh conditions mandated for Shanghai, citizens have cleared store shelves hoarding food and supplies in case neighborhoods become fenced in, patrolled 24/7 by drones, and firmly locked down.  In other Chinese cities, mass testing in response to a scattering of coronavirus cases has already been a prelude to similar stringent restrictions.  The disruptions to China’s economy have become significant with the restocking of goods being seriously reduced by not allowing workers to leave their homes to manufacture them.  Worldwide shortages of some essential products, such as computer chips, are now being felt.

532.  The W.H.O. global vaccination goals for Covid-19 will not be met.

         Q:  Will enough people be vaccinated to reduce the chance of troublesome future variants?

         A:  The World Health Organization has set the goal to immunize 70 percent of people in every nation by June 2022 to control Covid-19 worldwide.  Now, it is clear that the world will fall far short of that target by the deadline. And there is a growing sense of resignation among public health experts that high Covid vaccination coverage may never be achieved in most lower-income countries, as badly needed funding from the United States dries up and both governments and donors turn to other priorities.

“The reality is that there is a loss of momentum,” said Dr. Isaac Adewole, a former health minister of Nigeria who now serves as a consultant for the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Only a few of the world’s 82 poorest countries – including Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, and Nepal have reached the 70 percent vaccination threshold. Many are under 20 percent, according to data compiled from government sources by the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford.  By comparison, about two-thirds of the world’s richest countries have reached 70 percent. (The United States is at 66 percent.)

Public health experts say that the consequence of abandoning this global effort could lead to the emergence of dangerous new variants that would threaten the world’s work to live with the virus.  “This pandemic is not over yet — far from it — and it’s imperative that countries use the doses available to them to protect as much of their population as possible,” said Dr. Seth Berkley, chief executive of Gavi, the nonprofit that runs the global vaccine clearinghouse.  Fewer than 17 percent of Africans have received a primary Covid immunization.  Nearly half of the vaccine doses delivered to the continent thus far have gone unused. Last month, the number of doses injected on the continent fell by 35 percent contrasted to the previous month in February.

533.   The FDA Approves First COVID-19 Treatment for Young Children.

          Q:  Have any Covdid pediatric therapeutics received full authorization by the FDA? 

          A:  On April 25, 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration fully approved a Covid-19 therapeutic drug for children who have been infected with Covid-19.  It expanded the emergency use authorization (EUA) approval of the drug Veklury (remdesivir) to cover pediatric patients 28 days of age and older weighing at least 3 kilograms (about 7 pounds) who show positive results of direct PCR Covid testing.  To qualify for this treatment, the child must be either hospitalized or if not hospitalized, have mild-to-moderate symptoms, and be at high risk for progression to severe disease.  This action makes Veklury the first fully approved COVID-19 treatment for children under 12 years of age.

534.  European and American officials: Covid-19 is no longer in an emergency phase.

         Q: Is Covid still a high-risk disease?

         A:  The European Union said on Wednesday that it was moving out of the emergency phase of the Covid-19 pandemic.  The move comes as the number of deaths and hospitalizations across Europe has dropped significantly because of the prevalence of the less severe Omicron variant, as well as high immunization levels. Three-quarters of Europeans are fully vaccinated, and over half have received an additional booster shot.  This compares to the 66% of Americans who are fully vaccinated.   The E.U. announcement, which came from the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, is an attempt to coordinate the management of the pandemic as it becomes less acute, though national governments continue to set their own policies on public health. Wednesday’s recommendation is not legally binding, and countries are free to follow or ignore it.

Ursula von der Leyen, the commission’s president, said on Wednesday that it was crucial to stay vigilant.  “New variants can emerge and spread fast,” Ms. von der Leyen said. “But we know the way forward. We need to further step up vaccination and boosting, and targeted testing — and we need to continue to coordinate our responses closely in the E.U.”

A week after the UE announcement, Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Biden. during an interview on the PBS Newshour stated The U.S. is no longer in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the coronavirus’s continuing global threat.  “We are certainly right now in this country out of the pandemic phase,” Fauci said.  “Namely, we don’t have 900,000 new infections a day and tens and tens and tens of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths. We are at a low level right now.”  In an interview with the Associated Press on April 27, Fauci said the pandemic isn’t over. “We are in a different moment of the pandemic,” he said. After a brutal winter surge, Fauci added, “we’ve now decelerated and transitioned into more of a controlled phase.  By no means does that mean the pandemic is over.”

535.  More than half of the U.S. population has contracted Covid-19.

         Q:  How many people have been infected by Covid-19?

         A:  The New York Times published an article last week, that was republished by many local newspapers, stating that, “By February, nearly 60% of the population had been exposed (infected) by the coronavirus, almost double the proportion seen in December 2021, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”  This increase was among every age group, while infections of the Omicron variant were greatest among children and adolescents, probably because those age groups were the least vaccinated.

 

“Flower Communion” — UUS:E Virtual Worship, May 8, 2022

Gathering Music

Welcome (Gina Campellone, UUS:E Director of Religious Education)

Announcements (Rev. Josh Pawelek)

Centering (Gina Campellone)

Prelude

“Flower Duet” from “Lakme”
By Leo Delibes
Performed by Peggy Webbe (Lakme) and Leo Snow (Mallika)

Chalice Lighting

#362 “Rise Up, O Flame
Words by anon, music by Michael Praetorius

Rise up, O flame,
by thy light glowing,
show to us beauty,
vision, and joy.

Processional Hymn

#361 “Enter, Rejoice and Come In”
By Louise Ruspini

Enter, rejoice, and come in.
Enter, rejoice, and come in.
Today will be a joyful day;
enter, rejoice, and come in.

Open your ears to the song…

Open your hearts ev’ryone…

Don’t be afraid of some change…

Enter, rejoice, and come in…

The Story, Part I

Ferdinand the Bull
adapted from Munro Leaf
presented by Gina Campellone and Friends

Musical Interlude  (Mary Bopp)

Joys and Concerns

Musical Interlude (Mary Bopp)

Offering

The recipients of our May community outreach offering are MARC, Inc. and MARCH, Inc.  Marc, Inc. provides advocacy, employment, residential, respite and retirement services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. March, Inc. provides residential programs and supportive living programs to people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.

Offering Music

“Berceuse” (Lullaby)
By Joachim Anderson
Performed by Peggy Webbe

The Story, Part II

Musical Interlude (Mary Bopp)

Homily (Rev. Josh Pawelek)

Flower Communion

Closing Hymn 

#162 Lay Down My Sword and Shield
Traditional African American Spiritual

Gonna lay down my sword and shield,
down by the riverside,
down by the riverside,
down by the riverside.
Gonna lay down my sword and shield,
down by the riverside,
gonna study war no more.

(Chorus)
I ain’t gonna study war no more,
I ain’t gonna study war no more,
ain’t gonna study war no more. (2x)

Gonna lay down my burden
down by the riverside …

(Chorus)

Gonna shake hands around the world,
ev’rywhere I roam…

(Chorus)

Extinguishing the Chalice

Closing Circle (Gina Campellone)

Postlude

“Toward Redemption: Responding to Margaret Renkl” — UUS:E Virtual Service, May 1, 2022

Gathering Music (Mary Bopp) (begins at 10:50)

Welcome and Announcements (Rev. Josh Pawelek)

Centering

Prelude

“The Beatitudes”
improvisation by Mary Bopp

Chalice Lighting and Opening Words

Excerpts from “An Open Letter to My Fellow White Christians”
by Margaret Renkl

Opening Hymn

“For a World Made Whole”
words by Josh Pawelek
music by Mary Bopp

May we be people, people of faith (hope, love)
May we be people, people of faith (hope, love)
May we be people, people of faith (hope, love)
For a world made whole,
May we be people of faith (hope, love)

Meditation

Musical Meditation (Mary Bopp)

Joys, Concerns and Introductions

Musical Meditation (Mary Bopp)

Offering
The recipients of our May community outreach offering are MARC, Inc. and MARCH, Inc. Marc, Inc. provides advocacy, employment, residential, respite and retirement services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. March, Inc. provides residential programs and supportive living programs to people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.

Offering Music

“What Wondrous Love is This?”
Traditional Southern Hymn, Arr. Mary Bopp

Sermon  “Toward Redemption: Responding to Margaret Renkl.”

Closing Hymn

#1007 “There’s a River Flowin’ in My Soul”
By Rose Sanders, aka Faya Ora Rose Touré
arr. Kenny Smith

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…

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.

Postlude (Mary Bopp)

Breakout Rooms

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 — April 27, 2022

“Shared expectations lead to predictability.”

526.   With full vaccinations and booster shots, the impact of Covid-19 resembles flu.

         QIs the current Covid-19 disease still worse than the seasonal flu?

         A:  A special report was recently written in the New York Times, highlighting that the share of cases that turn into severe illnesses is declining.  Three main reasons were given:

  • Vaccinations and booster shots are effective and universally available to Americans.
  • Treatments are increasingly available for therapeutics like Evusheld for the immunocompromised and Paxlovid for vulnerable people who get infected.
  • Tens of millions of Americans have already been infected with the virus, providing them with at least some immunity.

These trends will not eliminate severe Covid. The number of nationwide hospitalizations will probably rise in the coming weeks, especially if cases continue to rise.

The declining share of coronavirus cases that result in serious illness would be very good news, stated Dr. Craig Spencer, director of global health in emergency medicine at Columbia University. Among other things, a decoupling of cases and severe illness would mean that hospitals were less likely to become overwhelmed during future Covid surges, which becomes another factor that reduces bad health outcomes.

Vaccines and treatments like Paxlovid tend to turn Covid into an illness of similar severity to seasonal flu.  This has been verified by the county surrounding Seattle, Washington, which keeps detailed data.  The daily Covid death rate for boosted elderly people has recently hovered around two per million. In a mild flu season nationally, that is higher than the death rate but somewhat lower than during a heavy influenza season.

For boosted people, the odds of severe Covid really do resemble the odds of severe influenza. And it was noted you don’t tend to see news stories every time a member of Congress or a Broadway star contracts the flu.  It is understood why the country is still treating Covid as a serious illness. For one thing, the large number of unvaccinated people means that Covid is still killing about 500 Americans a day. For another, Covid has dominated life for more than two years, and we can’t flip a switch and return to 2019.

Yet it would not be rational to treat the 2022 version of Covid as if it were identical to the 2020 version.  It isn’t.  Vaccines, treatments and even natural immunity have transformed the impact of the virus, especially for Americans who have chosen to protect themselves.

527.  A historical review of convalescence identifies better paths for recovery.

         Q:  How did our forefathers manage long-term diseases like tuberculosis differently?  

         A:  There is much anxiety today about the possibility of contracting “long-Covid’ consequences of this pandemic.   Historical studies have shown that prior to the 20th century, many illnesses took a long time for a patient’s recovery.  A raft of infectious diseases from typhoid to tuberculosis were included. This process of restoration—a stage between acute illness and full health—was a major focus of physicians and families. For centuries, the care of convalescents came with its own set of theories and rules, intended to prevent relapse and integrate patients back into normal life.  With medical advancements, tolerance for long recovery waned.

“Modern medicine is uncomfortable dealing with things where we don’t have a quick fix,” says Lancelot Pinto, consultant pulmonologist in Mumbai. “When there were no cures, patients were allowed to live out the natural history of the disease.  We have forgotten how this was accepted, and we have lost the methods that make this acceptable.”  He suggests that once a drug is found for COVID-19, “the workplace office will expect you back in five days.”  But Pinto also acknowledges the opportunity for advancing understanding of long-term mechanisms in virus illnesses. Post-viral symptoms have been documented in diseases from SARS to dengue but remain poorly studied.  Renewal of former ways to enhance convalescence is needed.

Sally Sheard, historian and executive dean of the Institute of Population Health at the University of Liverpool, stated “One of the clearest messages from my work on convalescence is that you cannot rush the process.”  Some COVID-19 patients were discharged too fast, to free up beds, while others were delayed in hospital too long because they had no help at home, she says, adding, “so maybe we need halfway or recovery homes,” not unlike convalescent homes, or a tuberculosis sanitarium.

The pandemic has brought new attention to long-term recovery as scientists gain a growing understanding of long COVID-19—a condition in which symptoms linger long after the initial diagnosis and illness. Many hospitals around the world have set up post-acute care clinics for these patients.

528.   The transportation mask mandate has been stopped by a judicial decision.

         Q:  What does the federal court action removing the CDC travel mask mandate mean?

         A:  On Monday, April 19, Tampa, Florida-based Federal District judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle threw out the mask mandate the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had imposed on all interstate transportation hubs including commercial airports and airplanes.  Mizelle’s analysis focused on two distinct holdings — her interpretation that the CDC lacked the statutory authority to impose such a mandate which is worded to promote “sanitation,” and that, in any event, the CDC rules applied nationwide, and rather than find for the plaintiffs that had sued for relief, she rendered it invalid nationwide. Therefore, by Monday afternoon, most major airlines and transportation services were no longer enforcing mask requirements.

In the past, the Supreme Court by its rulings has made it difficult to bring class-action suits that apply to all members in a defined class.  “Universal injunctions” have become far more common.  A universal injunction is a court decision that if a single group wins a case to stop an action, the court can extend that injunction to other similar groups even if they were not part of the adjudicated case.

Judge Mizelle’s action was defined as a “universal injunction.” If not appealed, it will become a judicial precedent that any group that feels aggrieved by having to follow a public health mandate can sue with the result that can dictate a nationwide order against that mandate.  This precedent could allow parents in one school that dispute a mandate against students requiring school vaccinations to lead to a nationwide removal of such mandates.  If that suit was brought in the late summer, it might take months – or longer – before an appeal could be successful in re-establishing that mandate.  CDC is one of the world’s most prestigious public health organizations. Mizelle’s precedent could put public health policies in control of the judicial system, replacing science with lawyers and the prevailing political will.

529.  Factors are identified to decide when a second booster could best be taken.

         Q: If vaccines and boosters wane, should I wait until Fall and my long trip to get boosted?

         A:  In a recent forum, New York Times science and global health reporter responded by stating that timing the vaccines for maximum protection is indeed key. The ability of the vaccines to prevent infections drops off sharply but protection against severe illness lasts longer.  It takes about a week for the booster to kick the immune system into gear. So, for people younger than 60 and in relatively good health, it may be OK to time a vaccine dose for the next surge or a trip to see vulnerable relatives. But for older adults and others at higher risk, experts recommend a second booster shot now. With numbers rising nationwide, they say, you’ll want to be protected against infection, not just severe illness, and a second booster shot will extend the longevity of the shield.

530.  U.S. Supreme Court rules that a military mandate for vaccination is valid.

         Q:  If workers cannot be mandated to be vaccinated, what about the military?

         A:  The Supreme Court ruled a week ago Monday that the Pentagon may take disciplinary action against a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve who refused to be vaccinated against the coronavirus on religious grounds.  The court’s brief, unsigned order gave no reasons, which is common when the justices act on emergency applications. The court’s three most conservative members — Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch — noted dissents but did not explain their thinking.  In this case, Lt. Col. Jonathan Dunn, who has been removed from his command after serving for nearly two decades as a pilot, trainer, and commander, said he sought only “protection against further punishment, including a discharge.”  Colonel Dunn, who has received many other vaccinations without objection, said he decided that the coronavirus vaccine violated his faith after seeing President Biden speak about it, leading him to conclude that “the vaccine ceased to be merely a medical intervention and took on a symbolic and even sacramental quality.”