Category: Public Health

May 27, 2022

CDC Raises Community Levels to High

As of May 27 the CDC lists all of our suburban counties in the “high” community (impact) level. Philadelphia is listed as “medium.” All five SEPA counties are experiencing high community transmission of the virus, according to the CDC. In obedience to Christ’s command to love our neighbors, we urge congregations to take this (hopefully...

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April 12, 2022

Philadelphia Reinstates Indoor Mask Mandate

Updated: April 12, 2022 From WPVI: Philadelphia health officials have reinstated the mandate for masks at indoor public places effective April 18. See more:   From WPVI: “Philadelphia health officials are warning people that there could be a new wave of COVID-19 infections. “Even though COVID cases remain low in Philadelphia, health officials are now...

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April 5, 2022

Revised Protocol For Synod Events

The synod has revised its protocol for synod-sponsored or related events. A primary recommendation is common sense: Attendees, organizers and presenters should STAY HOME if they are feeling sick. The guidelines call for following CDC Community Levels for wearing masks, and reserves the right for event organizers to require masks to protect attendees regardless of...

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February 25, 2022

Covid Questions and Answers, February 2022

Dr. Tim Babinchak, infectious disease specialist, joined congregation leaders for a question and answer session on Feb. 24. Dr. Babinchak, a member of St. Johns, Phoenixville, discussed moving forward post-omicron variant surge and making decisions about congregational life and activities. [Scroll down to watch the video] [Download Transcript: COVID Q&A February 2022] Dr. Babinchak noted...

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February 16, 2022

COVID Update from Bishop Davenport

Dear Beloved, I am grateful that COVID cases and hospitalizations have been declining quickly across southeastern Pennsylvania. I pray that this trend continues. In order to protect the people we serve, I encourage you to keep finding safe ways to gather in person as well as offer complementary online access. Our leaders and congregations have...

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January 13, 2022

As COVID Surge Continues, Stay the Course on Mitigation

A Message From Bishop Davenport January 13, 2022 Dear Beloved, As we enter the depth of the winter season, I want to remind you how important it is to hold fast to our COVID mitigation protocols for the safety of our leaders, worshippers, and communities. We encourage you to find safe ways to gather in...

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January 5, 2022

COVID Data Update for January 5

As of January 4, the number of new cases reported in the Philadelphia metro area have increased sharply since December 9. New case rate in all five SEPA counties is rated as “Extreme” (the most dire category) by COVIDActNow.org. Some good news: Over the same time period the percentage of ICU beds in use has...

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December 15, 2021

Bishop: New Synod Guidelines For In-Person Worship

Bishop Davenport December 15, 2021 Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. – Philippians 2:4 Dear Beloved in Christ, I bring you greetings for a blessed Christmas and a safe New Year. As we approach our second pandemic holiday, you are in my prayers. Sadly, a week...

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December 10, 2021

COVID Update: Increasing Cases Challenge Churches At Christmas

As new COVID 19 cases spike across Southeastern Pennsylvania, churches face new concerns about keeping members, leaders, and neighbors safe during the holidays. All our SEPA counties are seeing steep increases in new cases and a rising infection rate. Combined these data points indicate the likelihood of further spread through December. As Lutheran Christians, we...

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December 10, 2021

What Is Going On With COVID Right Now?

New COVID infections are rising sharply across the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod’s five counties, with new case rates between 34.2 and 44.2 new cases per 100,000 residents. Infection rates continue to be high, ranging from 1.12 to 1.24. A rate of 1.24, for example, means that for each 100 infected persons the disease is spreading to...

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November 23, 2021

Winter COVID Update with Dr. Babinchak

How will the availability of vaccines for 5 to 11-year-olds impact church activities for Advent and Christmas? What about travel and gatherings for the holidays, and the onset of colder weather?  Dr. Tim Babinchak, an infectious disease specialist, joined us for our regular COVID update for congregations and leaders. Watch by clicking this link (Passcode is sepa!comms2021). WATCH...

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October 1, 2021

Answers to Your Questions From Dr. Babinchak

Dr. Tim Babinchak, an infectious disease specialist and member of St. John’s Lutheran Church, Phoenixville, has been offering guidance for responding to COVID to SEPA Synod this year. Here he answers some current questions from SEPA leaders. If you have a question for Dr. Babinchak, please send it to Pastor Bob Fisher at rfisher@sepa.org.  ...

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September 23, 2021

Ideas for Adapting Worship and Congregational Life

Ideas:  Adapting Congregational Life In September 2021, 40 SEPA Synod congregations responded to our informational survey regarding changes to worship in the midst of the current Delta variant surge. Most of the congregations report requiring or strongly suggesting the wearing of masks inside their buildings. Some have agreed to stop worship if attendees do not...

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September 17, 2021

Dr. Osterholm: A Whole New Ballgame

Last week was the single worst week for pediatric COVID cases since the start of the pandemic, with more than a quarter-million new cases diagnosed, epidemiologist Michael Osterholm said on Thursday’s edition of his podcast. Cases among children aged 0-17 account for 30 percent of all cases in the U.S., he said. Cases among children...

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September 16, 2021

Check Latest COVID Conditions

Check COVID-19 new cases, positive test rates, and ICU utilization for your county to determine the relative safety of indoor or outdoor gatherings. COVID CONDITIONS IN YOUR COUNTY CDC DATA TRACKER In its latest guidance, the Ecumenical Consultation on Protocols for Worship, Fellowship, and Sacraments recommends the following metrics for resuming in-person outdoor or indoor...

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September 13, 2021

Delta Variant Precautions

Dr. Tim Babinchak, an expert in infectious diseases, advises congregations to continue with the precautions of wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, cleaning, and increasing ventilation as they continue with indoor worship services and other activities.    A member of St. John’s Lutheran Church, Phoenixville, ihe s retired head of infectious diseases at Thomas Jefferson University...

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August 3, 2021

‘Substantial’ Virus Seen in SEPA

As of August 1, the CDC reports that Philadelphia, Bucks, Delaware and Montgomery counties are experiencing “substantial” community transmission of coronavirus. The CDC recommends that all people, vaccinated or not, wear masks and maintain physical distancing in indoor public or multi-household gatherings. See this article explaining CDC guidance. Unvaccinated persons, including all children under 12...

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July 20, 2021

COVID Cases, Risk Up in SEPA

The nationwide increase in COVID cases is affecting Southeastern Pennsylvania. As of July 20, the CDC reported that community transmission risk is moderate in our suburban counties, up from low risk two weeks ago. Risk of community transmission in Philadelphia is low. According to Dr. Tim Babinchak, a local infectious disease expert, “we are definitely...

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July 12, 2021

Prayer and Encouragement from Bishop Davenport

In a video message, Bishop Patricia A. Davenport offers prayer for our leaders and congregations as together we continue to press through to the other side of the pandemic. In this pastoral word of encouragement, the Bishop asks Lutherans to be gentle with one another as individuals and congregations have varying feelings about returning to...

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June 28, 2021

COVID Precautions: Vaccines and Protect Vulnerable People

Although the coronavirus is “never going to go away,” the good news is that “it’s as safe (now) as it’s going to get at this point,” infectious disease expert Dr. Tim Babinchak told SEPA leaders on a Zoom call June 24. “And as more people get vaccinated, it will get safer.” During his presentation, Dr....

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