Minnesota Covid info 10-28-2020


MN Dept of Heal Update

Washington County COVID-19 Statistics
For Washington County Only 10-27-2020



COVID-19 Update: Deepening Cause for Concern in Minnesota from UCC Newsletter dated 10-27-2020


Last week’s meeting of judicatory leaders with the Minnesota Department of Health was a sobering one & provided several bits of information you need to know & discuss with your colleagues and congregations. That meeting, along with the October 26 update from the Governor and MDH officials, can be summarized as follows:


  • Arlota Medus, MDH epidemiologist: “This is a really critical time. We are on the edge of big trouble in Minnesota.”
  • As of Monday, October 26 we have 19 consecutive days of over 1000 new cases per day, the most serious community spread since the start of the pandemic.
  • Over the recent 2-week period, there was an 11% increase in known cases of COVID directly related to outbreaks in faith communities. There was also a 37% increase in cases traced to weddings, and a 15% increase in cases related directly to worship.* (Actual numbers are likely higher because some are not comfortable naming these settings when contact tracing is done.)
  • The metro area is actually slightly more stable than other parts of the state at this point. Case growth is now most pronounced in “greater Minnesota”; this aligns with where there is greatest resistance to measures such as masking.
  • If you look at the state’s positivity rate, case numbers, hospitalizations, and community spread indicators combined, we have a very “grim picture” in Minnesota currently. Our statewide positivity rate is 6.5% (caution urged at anything over 5%, high risk considered 10%). Our statewide community spread figure is 37.6% (high risk level). COVID-related hospitalizations have increased by 70%. Minnesota’s COVID-19 fatality count took a big jump last Wednesday with 35 new deaths reported by the Minnesota Department of Health. The state has not seen such a high number since May 28.*
  • Reminder: Masking, physical distancing, amount of time spent indoors, and size of gathering can all mitigate community spread, but they do not eliminate it.
  • Marge Higgins, MDH official: “If you gather with anyone outside your household right now, you’re entering a high risk environment.” Even small social gatherings (including church committees/activities) pose risk, and given the broader data, those smaller social gatherings are higher risk now than they were over the summer.


What does all of that data mean for us and our churches? If you have not resumed in-person, indoor worship or other in-person activities as of yet: stay the course and do not do so. If you have already resumed in-person, indoor worship and/or other activities: prayerfully consider ceasing that practice now. Meet with your congregational leadership, study your community’s data, and consider discontinuing any in-person gatherings until further notice. I’ve already received word from some of you that you have made this decision where you are, and I’m grateful for the wisdom and care you are showing.


I know we are ALL so tired of the never-ending COVID narrative. We miss seeing one another in person, we’re tired of Zoom screens and YouTube posts, we want to return to the precious routines of our personal and church lives. Unfortunately, COVID is not cooperating with our weariness. In fact, the months ahead could be very difficult as weather prevents most outdoor gatherings and as the flu also sets in, complicating the picture.


It is unlikely that the Governor would “dial back” on his executive orders and “shut us down” once again, given the enormous political and economic pressure he is under to not do so. So it is up to all of us to follow the data, practice prayerful discernment, and do our part as individuals, congregations, and the Conference to hasten this pandemic’s conclusion and keep all our neighbors healthy & safe by following the most stringent public health protocols.


Advent & Christmas will present an enormous temptation for us as churches to re-gather our people face-to-face. Especially this year, after all we have endured, we long to be together for this most special part of the year. With a heavy heart, I urge you to avoid that temptation.