Ask the Rev. Doctor Maria

May 06, 2020
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The Rev. Dr. Maria Evans is serving as the Interim Rector at Christ Church in Rolla. She is also a pathologist, board certified in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology, a laboratory medical director, and has served on hospital infection control committees for over 30 years. 

During the coronavirus outbreak, The Rev. Dr. Maria is offering her expertise to help us understand and make our way through this unprecedented experience. If you have a question you'd like to ask The Rev. Dr. Maria, send an email to communications@diocesemo.org

 

The part of the state where I live is no longer under a stay at home order.  Am I free to resume my normal activities yet, as long as I maintain six feet distance from everyone?
 
If you are an at risk person (age 60 or over, immunocompromised, or with a chronic illness or illnesses), you continue to be very much at risk.  Even if you are not high risk, it's important to continue being cautious for the sake of high risk individuals.
 
On Monday, May 4, the day the stay at home order was lifted in many parts of the state (St. Louis area remains under a stay at home order), Missouri recored 368 cases--the highest number of new cases in a single day.  Granted, it's probably still a little early to see what effect lifting the order has had, but what we are seeing are pockets of high infection complicating the picture.  
 
Many of the new cases came from a number of new positive cases that occurred in a meat packing facility in St. Joseph, MO--approximately 300 cases.  At the same time, random testing throughout the state (roughly 3,000 people) revealed nine new positives--a somewhat more reassuring bit of data--so it's very hard to interpret the overall data at the moment.  There are a lot of moving parts in this picture, and it's confusing.
 
What we do know is that the present problem is the issue of asymptomatic spread of the virus.  People who don't show symptoms become "super-infectors" because they see no reason to avoid being out and about.  We're also seeing the phenomenon of "hot spots"-- a sudden increase in new cases in a single facility -- that spreads the virus widely in a very short period of time, and has usually affected dozens of people before the first case is recorded in that facility.
 
Now more than ever, it's important to continue staying at home as much as possible, and if one must get out to do essential work or necessary tasks, to maintain proper physical distance and wear a mask.  Remember, the purpose of the mask is not to protect you from others, but to protect others from you, on the off chance you are an asymptomatic spreader of the virus!
 
One of the things that remains a fundamental understanding of who we are in Christian community, is that we are to always be mindful of those on the margins.  As businesses open up, some people are not going to have the option of choosing to stay home, and will have to return to work because they will be losing their unemployment benefits.  When people must go to work because they have no other option, it increases the chance we will have more asymptomatic spreaders of virus.  When any of us who have more options voluntarily choose to stay home longer, we avoid contributing to that pool of people asymptomatically spreading the virus.
 
Remember:
When we stay home, we are caring for others.
When we wear a mask, we are caring for others.
When we avoid situations where it's clear people are not maintaining the proper physical distance, we are caring for others.
 
As Christians, we recognize various calls to care for others, whether it's hunger, or homelessness, or being a paycheck away from disaster.  For now, let's add "not spreading viruses by accident" to the list!
 
Faithfully,
The Rev. Dr. Maria Evans
who also doubles as
Maria L. Evans, MD, FCAP, FASCP
 
This material is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. The Episcopal Church and its affiliates do not provide any healthcare services and, therefore, cannot guarantee any results or outcomes. Always seek the advice of a healthcare professional with any questions about your personal healthcare, including diet and exercise.

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Need more information? Contact communications@diocesemo.org

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