COVID-19 2021: Prolonged Uncertainty

COVID-19 2021: Prolonged Uncertainty

Here we are a little over a week into the new year. Our nation and our world continue to struggle under the COVID-19 pandemic. As of January 12th all three states in the SNEUCC conference are experiencing high positivity rates for COVID-19. New variant strains are being identified that appear to be more contagious than the earlier strain making it even more important to continue wearing a mask, maintaining social distance and washing our hands. The good news so far is that the new variants do not appear to be more deadly. They also are thought to respond to the current vaccines. Even so, many feel great uncertainty.
We are weary, weary of isolation and fear of others, weary of having to plan carefully for each and every activity in our daily life. If we give up now, while positivity rates are high, and hospitals are struggling to care for all who are ill we will see even more difficult circumstances before the end of this pandemic. This is why we are continuing on-line worship and carefully managing essential ministries for vulnerable people in the community. One only needs to read the papers to find examples of outbreaks of the virus even when appropriate precautions are followed. In Woburn, Massachusetts, 44 people tested positive for Covid-19 after worship services were held Dec. 23, and 24th. Christmas services at a church in Vermont led to 80 COVID-19 cases. An outbreak at a church in North Carolina resulted in 3 deaths and almost 100 people infected. If you are like me, you don’t want to be the source of an outbreak!
So, let’s be patient. We are called to remain vigilant in protecting ourselves and others. The first vaccines are being distributed and more are being developed. Vaccine administration is proceeding more slowly than desired. We wonder when will be our turn? The experts are considering vulnerability, and public health issues in order to decide who should be vaccinated first. This is an ethical and a scientific issue as the world strives to reach a level of herd immunity that will protect the greatest number of people. Click the link for your state to learn more Connecticut COVID-19 Vaccination Information, Massachusetts COVID Vaccination Information, Rhode Island COVID Vaccination Information.
It is unfortunate that we must be aware of potential scams related to the Coronavirus vaccine. Remember that you will never be asked for your social security number or bank information at a vaccination site. You also will never be required to pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine. If you suspect a fraudulent email contact your department of consumer protection to report what you saw.
There is hope on the horizon and there are ways for us to manage uncertainty and reduce the impact of stress in our daily lives. It is important to focus on the things we can control in our life, accept what we cannot change and to live according to our values. The World Health Organization (WHO) is an excellent resource for information and data related to the pandemic.  WHO has published a guide that offers a simple, illustrated discussion and practical tips to help people recognize and manage anxiety and stress. It includes audio file links in multiple languages to listen and practice stress relief. Techniques such as grounding, acting on your values, unhooking, engaging, making room and being kind are discussed. The guide reminds us that our values and actions are important in relationship to care of ourselves and others.
I pray we will be able to be together soon. Until then here are some tools to manage stress and anxiety in these uncertain, stress filled times:
  • Decide how much news coverage you can handle and stick to it. Try watching one or two news programs or reading the paper daily. You do not have to listen to constant updates.
  • Take care of yourself. Drink your water, eat a healthy diet, get some exercise and keep regular sleep habits.
  • Remember the helper principle: helping others is also a benefit to the helper. Make a phone call, write a note pick up groceries for a neighbor while you are out.
  • Don’t hesitate to reach out to your physician, trusted friend or spiritual director, mental health professional if your emotions are keeping you from your daily activities.
Resource Links
New COVID-19 Variants
Reopening RI Faith-based organizations
RI Protect Your Household effective December 21, 2020
What is Herd Immunity?  A brief video by Dr Howard Forman, Yale University Jan. 5, 2021
Connecticut COVID-19 Vaccination Information
Massachusetts COVID Vaccination Information     
Rhode Island COVID Vaccination Information


Deborah Ringen

Deborah Ringen MSN, RN-BC is a Faith Community Nurse and the Minister of Health and Wellness for the Southern New England Conference, UCC.

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