Ask the Rev. Doctor Maria
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.
All those positive cases connected with the White House and the speed at which it happened have made me more nervous than usual about my own comings and goings. Is something going on with this virus I wasn't aware of before?
When it comes to viruses, there's always something going on. They mutate and change all the time. Most recently, there's been discussion that one of the mutations makes it more infectious, which is a distinct possibility--but what all this recent news has to give us that's more useful is that all of us need to be diligent about what a lot of folks are calling "The three C's":
1. Crowds in
2. Close Spaces with
3. Prolonged Contact.
We know that those "three C's" are the formula for infection with coronavirus. It is sobering that what might be the most frequently tested group of people in the country can now have at least 19 people (my count as of 10/5/20) that are part of the inner circle of the President of the United States, positive for coronavirus. There have certainly been crowds and people in close spaces in the circle of the White House, and prolonged contact among staffers. I suspect it will be revealed in the days to come whether or not their own internal protocols were violated. Yet for us, and our churches in the diocese, it underscores why we have been extremely cautious and extremely diligent to have our own protocols.
As I've said all along, no matter what the infection rate (R0, or "R-naught") is in a given county or state, we know there is a cluster effect when a COVID-positive person transmits virus in crowded, closed spaces for an extended length of time. R0 is an average, and doesn't necessarily extrapolate to a single incident or event.
Rather than be overly concerned about any changes that might be going on in the virus itself, it's probably more productive for us all to step back and be honest with ourselves about the places we've gotten a little lax in this pandemic. I'm more cautious than most folks, and even I realize I've gotten a little slipshod in my daily habits, like making sure I have several masks in my pickup truck. We've all seen a few more friends than perhaps we ought have, or perhaps simply needed to have a meal in a restaurant after so long a dry spell.
Other than praying for our nation and all in authority, which we should be doing anyway as faithful Episcopalians (p. 383, BCP), there's not much else any of us can do about what is presently happening in Washington DC. What we can be doing, however, is getting back on track with CDC-recommended social distancing and mask-wearing habits, so we don't have to answer for being part of a super-spreading cluster. We will come out on the other side of this, eventually, and each of us has a responsibility to do our part. I know it's discouraging at times, with so many people behaving like it's over already (or never happened), to be diligent...and at the same time, I can't help but think all of this recent news will cause at least a few naysayers to take pause, and change their behaviors. We know from our own experiences as faithful Christians that a small nidus of change can bring about much bigger change in our world. Let's hope and pray this is one of them!
The Rev. Dr. Maria Evans
who 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.