The Iowa Conference of The United Methodist Church offers this November addendum to the3-2-1 Reentry Plan. This addendum was developed in consultation with the Extended Cabinet of the Iowa United Methodist Conference and in review of reports by leading epidemiologists in Iowa, analysis of updates from medical researchers and public health organizations across the state and nation, and in discernment of resources provided by the major coronavirus outlets including the White House Coronavirus Task Force and the Iowa Governor’s Office.
INFORMATION FROM THE WHITE HOUSE TASK FORCE AND THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE INCLUDING THEIR RECOMMENDED GUIDANCE TO IOWA.
As of November 1, 2020, the White House Coronavirus Task Force reported Iowa continues in the Red Zone. Iowa is currently 6th in the nation for new coronavirus cases per capita (more than 100 new cases per 100,000 residents) and 5th in the nation for test positivity (more than 10% of diagnostic tests are positive). What the White House report means is that 99% of Iowa Counties are reporting high or moderate levels of community coronavirus transmission. The White House Task Force recommended the following key practices: "Do not gather without a mask with individuals living outside of your household," "Always wear a mask in public places," and, "Stop gatherings beyond immediate household until cases and test positivity decrease significantly." For additional information from the White House Task Force, please go to: https://www.coronavirus.gov/.
In Governor Kim Reynolds’ update this week, medical professionals on the state team indicated the next three weeks are critical across the state. The Governor’s Office is asking all of Iowa to do their part in mitigating transmission of this disease, including limiting contact with persons who live outside of your household. https://www.weareiowa.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/iowa-white-house-coronavirus-task-force-report-october-25-cases-test-positivity-data-hospitalizations-community-spread/524-094b1b29-13e0-4c33-988a-5999d71a38b9
Critical takeaways to share with leadership in your local setting:
WHAT DOES RED ZONE MEAN FOR OUR LOCAL CHURCHES?
As has been and will continue to be the guidance from the Crisis Response Team and the 3-2-1 Reentry Plan that when your county is in the Red Zone, refraining from public gatherings, including indoor worship and other in-person activities is advised.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY CHURCH IS IN A RED ZONE COUNTY?
For help in determining your up-to-date county numbers/status, please visit: https://globalepidemics.org/. As of this writing, all 99 Iowa Counties are identified as red.
This site has divided Iowa into four quadrants based on congressional districts and tracks the 7-day moving average. Numbers recorded on November 5, 2020. NE - 693 new cases each day; NW - 582 new cases each day; SE - 446 new cases each day and SW 475 new cases each day.
WHAT ADDITIONAL INFORMATION WILL RESOURCE OUR DECISIONS?
This site will give you the % Positive Case Analysis for school districts (for those aligning their protocols/best practices to your school district), as well as, % Positive Cases by County (for those aligning their protocols/best practices to your public health partners). This analysis is based upon the previous 14-day-period. If your county is trending upward 15% or higher you have likely moved through the Orange Zone of accelerated spread and are nearing or have arrived at the Red Zone. At the Red Zone, it is advised that you do not gather for in-person worship and that groups needed for leadership of worship and day-to-day operations should be masked and physically distanced from each other.
Critical takeaways to share with leadership in your local setting:
WHAT IF THE PASTOR, STAFF MEMBER OR MEMBER OR ONE OF THEIR HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS IS AT HIGH RISK?
Staff Pastor Parish Committees and Church Leadership teams are to be in conversation with their pastor and members of their household to determine best practice and ways to support those who may have health risks in part of the vulnerable population. When pre-existing conditions exist for the pastor and/or their members of their household, including church staff, it may mean they must refrain from in-person worship as they care for self or family members. If it is determined your pastor/family is at-risk, please be in contact with your District Superintendent to create or report on your plan of care and the ongoing coverage of ministry.
IN MY CARE OF MY COMMUNITY, HOW CAN I BEST TRACK INFORMATION AND REVIEW OUR STATE TRENDS?
There are two sites that have been most helpful to local assessment of Covid-19 conditions in your area: Iowa Covid-19 Tracker (14-day trends) and Johns Hopkins (7-day trends). Reading these sites in tandem while planning for local response has proven beneficial for many faith communities across Iowa. It has been noted that the Harvard dashboard uses a 7-day average for positivity which makes the numbers fluctuate more quickly than some other reporting agencies that are using a 14-day average for positivity. When you access these sites for data collection, there may be times when counties are showing in the "Red Zone" on the Harvard site and you might note that you aren't in the "Red Zone" on other sites that is using a 14-day average - this is an indicator you are moving toward Red. For the most part, however, the trends are in sync and make sense when held together - this is why we recommend tracking both 7-day and 14-day trackers.
The Iowa Covid-19 tracker is an excellent dashboard of the big picture in Iowa. This site is full of data that is provided by Sara Anne Willette and Auriel A. Willette from Iowa. This dashboard was developed out of a personal passion to care for the state of Iowa with data-driven facts. This keepers of this site also post twice daily on Facebook around 12 PM and 12 AM and also livestreams data updates and provides downloads during the 10 AM/PM hour.
John Hopkins hosts an accessible site and has become a respected, fact-gathering resource. They do heavy lifting on this one tracking state trends for our local leaders. This resource is recommended if you want to track and report Past Day/Past Week/Past Month trends for your local reentry team. For example, at the time of this report, Past Day numbers for Iowa are: 2,888 new cases and 21 deaths; Past Week numbers from Oct 25-Oct 31 include: 16,579 new cases, 110 new deaths, 41.96% state-wide positivity rate; this mean 4/10 tests did come back as positive. This will also show that the current week is trending at 45.58% state-wide positivity rate that supports the data showing Iowa is on a rapid increase for cases.