On September 24 the Bishop changed the opening criteria to the “Michigan Adaptation”.
Current Stats for Porter County:
Details for 11/3/20 – New Cases per 100,000 = 62 (RED), 12.1% Positivity (max. 5% recommended)
Opening determination figures prior to Bishop Spark’s statement of September 24 (above)
As you know, an important part of the care we are taking for our people is monitoring the number of COVID-19 cases in our counties. Here is their current status:
<< For latest Porter County data click here >>
September 10, 2020
My Dear Kindred in Christ,
With our counties still adjusting to the consequences of school re-openings of various types, our COVID-numbers remain high. The bright spots on this otherwise shadowed horizon include St. Joseph County coming down out of the Red Zone and Marshall County coming within shouting distance of Yellow (watch your numbers the next 2 days—you just might make it!). Also inspiring are some of the plans emerging for thoughtful and creative indoor worship within the newly adjusted guidelines.
By the way, if you visit the state COVID dashboard at https://www.coronavirus.in.gov/2393.htm, you’ll notice a new tab entitled “County Metrics.” This tab lets you know the 7-day positivity rate for your county, a rate that can indicate how likely it is that folks who are infected are actually getting tested. The WHO and other health organizations have indicated that a positivity rate of under 5% is an indicator that testing is sufficiently robust to allow for confidence that a region has met reopening criteria. We will consider this information when looking at “borderline cases,” such as the question above of when Marshall County (with an excellent positivity rate of 1.65%!) crosses into the Yellow Zone.
The Rev. Canon Terri L. Bays, PhD.
Missioner for Transitions and Governance
Emergency Response NGO/Government Liaison
Update August 27, 2020 – Bishop Sparks
Dear Sisters, Brothers, Siblings,
Grace and peace be with you in Jesus, the Light for all people!
I want to begin this Pastoral Letter by thanking you for your steadfast faith and witness during the COVID 19 Pandemic. We are now into our 24th week since arriving at the consensus to suspend all in-person worship on 13 March 2020. While we have leaned into the experience of Virtual Worship with all its challenges, like you, I long for the opportunity to gather safely for in-person worship. I especially want to thank our missioners for their good and faithful ministry in helping us adapt…from plotting the daily COVID 19 positive cases for each county to providing the most current communication and informative infographics to preparing for our two virtual conventions this fall…our common life as the Episcopal Church in Northern Indiana continues!
We know more about managing our lives safely in this pandemic now than we did in March. In addition to the 4 criteria in our Pastoral Plan for Regathering, we also made use of the color coding formula of Green (<1 case per 100K); Green -Yellow(5 or less new cases per day per 100K); Yellow (>1 and < or equal to 10 new cases per day per 100K); Orange (>10 and < or equal to 25 new cases per day per 100K) and Red (> 25 new cases per day per 100K) to further assist us in determining the possibility of in-person worship county by county. We have had three ordination services which have helped identify what additional best practices need to be in place for in-person worship. Adhering to protocols for gathering safely for in-person worship like ours, the dioceses in Michigan have allowed for in-person worship using the lower number of 25 % of full legal capacity OR seating with 6’ between household groups.
Taking what we have learned into account, the missioners and I offered the “Michigan adaption”for consideration during our Clergy and Lay Leader Zoom Call yesterday, 26 August. After considerable discussion, most of the clergy and lay leaders supported adopting the “Michigan adaptation” for our diocese. This will require some additional work in reaching a specific number, given the size of each of your worship spaces. However, it could make it possible for more of us to begin gathering outdoors or indoors for in-person worship as we approach September. I want to underscore that how and when this adaptation begins in your faith community will be decided by the clergy and lay leaders of your faith community.
The infographic above describes, in greater detail,the number for indoor worship, given your county’s color determination as well as outdoor worship for your county, given the color determination.
If you have any questions or concerns, please call on me.
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Douglas E. Sparks
VIII Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana
Update July 2, 2020 – Rev. Canon TerriBayes
Those of you who draw your congregation from a cluster of counties will want to consult other situations as well, but the baseline for your decision making should be the situation in the county in which your building is located
We, as a diocesan staff, have made every effort to continue reviewing the ways in which we assess our situation, both according to the information being reported by our health departments and according to the changing reports about factors affecting that reporting. We have also been listening you your concerns about the differences among the situations in your various counties. As a result, you will notice a few differences between this spreadsheet and the model we showed you a few months ago.
First, we are now using a 7-day rather than a 5-day rolling average. As with the 5-day figure, the 7-day average adjusts for the fact that different people will be tested at different stages of illness. The 7-day average further allows us to account for the differing availability of testing throughout any given week.
Second, having heard your concerns about the differences in population density in different counties, we have adopted a population-sensitive severity scale used by the CDC. Different colors designate different saturation rates in the county:
Green: averaging ≤ 1 case/day per 100,000 people
Yellow: averaging 2-10 cases/day per 100,000 people
Orange: averaging 11-25 cases/day per 100,000 people
Red: averaging >25 cases/day per 100,000 people.
We have averaged the number of cases in your county for the past 14 days, compared that number with the population of your county, and assigned your county a corresponding severity color. Faith Communities in counties with an orange or red designation should not gather for in-person worship, even if they have experienced a 14-day decline in cases.
Faith Communities in counties with a yellow designation should be exercising caution. This means not gathering for in-person worship if the county has experienced a 14-day increase in cases. The exception we are making to this is in counties where the population is so small that a single case would show up as 3-4 cases per 100,000 people. In order to adjust for this, we have marked counties remaining below 5 cases/day as both yellow and green, meaning that faith communities should remain watchful with regard to a rising number of cases, but may still gather for in-person worship.
We are issuing this information on Thursday afternoon so that you have time to take appropriate measures before Sunday. What this means, however, is that we will be using, at best, the data from Wednesday. It is therefore your responsibility, as clergy and lay leaders, to continue monitoring the situation on Friday and Saturday and to cancel services if there is a sufficiently large spike in cases as to change the profile for your county. You always can call me at 574-850-5722 in order to consult if you are in doubt.
We realize that this situation will require you to deliver unwelcome news to people who are longing to return to worship in a beloved and comforting setting during troubled times. Know that you are in our prayers, for strength, courage and patience now, for the health and safety of your counties to improve soon and for an ongoing renewal of faith as together we walk the path God has laid before us.
We have received a number of questions regarding when outdoor worship is appropriate. Gathering outdoors only lessens without eliminating the risk of infection—that’s why we require all the other precautions to still be in place for outdoor gathering. Outdoor gathering is not appropriate when your county is in the orange or red zones. If your county is in a yellow rising zone, however, outdoor worship is a reasonable alternative. If your county is in a green, green-yellow <5, or yellow falling zone, then worship indoors and out are both permissible. In all cases, please also take steps to protect your outdoor congregations from the heat.