UPDATE regarding Provincial pandemic protocols
Dear Colleagues in Ministry:
I have just listened to the Premier’s COVID-19 technical briefing, and I have reviewed this morning’s updated projections for Ontario. As you may know already, the Premier announced he is “pulling the emergency brake,” placing the entire province in a 28-day shutdown. This goes into effect on Saturday, April 3 at 12:01AM. The announcement activates the new White-Shutdown category in the province’s pandemic framework, linked below.
While this may have varying degrees of impact on the work or personal lives of your parishioners, the announcement does not change the current protocols in effect for the Diocese of Algoma. Our current provisions meet or exceed the requirements of shutdown for our churches. The announcement, however, does reemphasize the absolute necessity for us to remain vigilant in what we hope will be the homestretch in tackling the pandemic.
Data released in today’s update projections indicates that the B117 variant of concern is a major factor in the third wave moving through the province. With this variant, there exists a risk of ICU admission that is 2x higher, and a risk of death that is 1.5x higher. This variant also is much more contagious and impacting much younger people; 46% of people affected are under the age of 60 years.
It is concerning, too, that vaccination efforts are not reaching the highest risk communities, delaying its impact as an effective strategy to limit the spread of COVID-19. I ask you to encourage your parishioners to register for the vaccine as soon as they are permitted to do so. Other ways we can do our part as faith leaders to stop the surge are included in this message from the northern health units of Ontario: https://www.algomapublichealth.com/news/this-spring-break-do-your-part-stop-the-surge/
As we move through the next few weeks, we will assess the success of efforts in stemming the tide of the virus, and evaluate when we may safely reopen our buildings for worship. In the meantime, your efforts in ministry during this difficult time are appreciated very much. I echo the words of gratitude we received today from the Algoma Health Unit: “This marathon has been so very challenging for the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being of us all. Thank you for the great care that you have taken to minister to the needs of Algoma’s faith communities.”
As we recall how on this night Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, giving them a new commandment to love one another, let us continue to love each other and our neighbours in the care we show during this pandemic.
I wish you all a blessed Paschal Triduum, and pray that the 50 Days of Easter will prove a time when we emerge from the season of pandemic.
The Ven. Dr. Jay Koyle
Links referenced above:
Today’s news release:
Updated Projections (2021-04-01):