Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 — June 16, 2021

  “Shared expectations lead to predictability.”

 296.  If required, reclosing will also be scientifically decided.

          Q: If the COVID cases suddenly surge, will we have to close the church again?

          A:  Yes, but just as we used science to decide when to open, we will only reclose the church when science tells us it is becoming unsafe, The 4 mandatory metrics documented on the website Covid Act Now ( will again be closely watched:

  • Mandatory metric 1. “Daily New Cases per 100,000 population” within the yellow -medium category at or below 5 new cases per 100,000 population (or 178 or fewer people)
  • Mandatory metric 2: “Infection Rate” within the green – low category at or below 0.9.
  • Mandatory metric 3: “Positive Test Rate” within the green – low.
  • Mandatory metric 4: “ICU Capacity Used within the green – low category at or below 70%.

The Policy Board is reviewing the following guidelines, which if approved will authorize them to decide to reclose the building if:

  • Any one metric is over the threshold for 7 consecutive days (one week); or
  • Any two metrics simultaneously are over their thresholds for 5 consecutive days; or
  • Any three metrics simultaneously are over their thresholds for 3 consecutive days; or
  • If the governor closes the state from holding indoor gatherings, the church will reclose immediately.

 297. Wearing masks will happen when the church reopens

          Q: Masks are not worn anywhere much anymore.  Why will we have to wear masks when we reopen?

          A: The answer is succinctly stated in a recently published article by the UUA, our national organization.

“Because our Unitarian Universalist faith is grounded in values that call us to care about one another, we must continue to make our decisions by centering the needs of the most vulnerable among us.”

“The UUA strongly recommends that congregations maintain a culture of indoor masking when they regather in person.  This is because of who we are, as a congregation, at our best.”

  • “We are all-ages communities, and not all ages have been able to get vaccinated yet.”
  • “We are all-abilities communities, and some of us have immune systems that do not mount strong protective response after the COVID vaccination and can suffer severe complications upon infection.”
  • “We are all-inclusive communities, and we want to express our UU values by being able to include all, regardless of vaccination status.”

298. World Health Organization switches to Greek names for COVID-19 variants

         Q:  I’m reading about the “Delta Covid variant.  What’s that?

         A:  On May 31, 2021, the World Health Organization announced a new common nomenclature for identifying the multiple mutations of COVID-19.  The scientific nomenclature used by epidemiologists to study and differentiate between the discernibly different variants will remain.  But the media and the public have always named pandemics and variations by the location where they were first observed.  Back in 1918, the major pandemic was named the “Spanish Flu.”  That name continues today, despite the disease probably originated in the United States – at an US Army camp in Kansas.  Naming disease variants by the location in which they were first observed can stigmatize the people or residents of that location.  Thus, the WHO has decided to provide identifiers that are neutral and easier to remember.

The original COVID-19 virus first observed in China is scientifically identified as H1N1.  It is the original virus, and thus has no Greek variant designation.  The classifications for the “Variants of Concern” are now as follows:

  • Alpha United Kingdom – September 2020         1.1.7
  • Beta South Africa – May 2020                            1.351
  • Gamma Brazil – November 2020                             1
  • Delta India – October 2020                                   617.2

WHO now discourages the use of location names associated with diseases.  No more reference to COVID-19 as being the “China Flu.”  One of the issues prompting this change was the diplomatic and political problems triggered by Trump’s and others’  constant referral to COVID that way.

299. A “joints for jabs” in Washington state

         Q:  What are some of the unusual incentives states are using to encourage people to get vaccinated?

         A:  We’ve all heard about many states” million-dollar lotteries and those for one-year full scholarships at state colleges or universities.  And the lottery for “custom rifles and shotguns” in West Virginia.  But one of the most intriguing is the giveaway announced by the State of Washington.  If anyone over age 21 gets vaccinated, they will be given a joint of marijuana!   Washington allows local sale of recreational cannabis, but in developing this project, concern emerged that anyone with a vaccination card could just go from store to different store and pick up a supply of joints.  So, the requirement was made that to receive a free joint, one had to be vaccinated in the store itself.  Setting up a physical vaccination site itself was not as much of a problem as finding the medical staff to be available to give the shots.  But apparently this system is now in place.  One wonders what would prevent the determined user from going to different stores and getting separate vaccinations to collect multiple joints?  How would a person be affected if they become “over-immunized?”  It can only be speculated that CDC might have to respond, “This hasn’t been studied yet. We have no data on that.”  But it would increase the number of vaccinations given!

300. The European Union has approved a virus travel certificate

         Q:  What do I need to prove I am vaccinated when I go to Europe?

         A:  The EU recently approved a uniform virus travel certificate that shows the holder is not infectious and capable of spreading COVID to others.  In addition to being fully vaccinated, this certificate is also issued if someone has recently tested negative or has recovered from the disease.  The impetus for doing this is to open up travel during the summer tourist season, which many European countries’ economy rely on heavily.  There were two separate votes taken approving this measure.  One was for EU citizens and the second for certificates to be given to people living outside the EU.

Are you planning on traveling to Europe this or next year?  These certificates should be available for any of us going there, but application details are not yet developed.  Ask your travel agent for how to obtain one.  Use of these certificates will start throughout Europe on July 1, and strict enforcement will be in place starting on January 1, 2022.