Welcome to ‘Merica where we draw lines on everything and you have to be on one side or the other. Pro-vacs/Anti-vacs, Pro-Life/Pro-choice, Republican/Democrat…FREAKING OUT OVER COVID-19/Making fun of people for freaking out.

Maybe for this one (and many of the others), we find a balance.

I’m not coming at this as a medical professional or politician. I’m looking at this situation from the posture of a pastor who loves people and wants to protect the vulnerable.

My unprofessional opinion is that this sickness will probably spread like crazy in America and many of us will suffer the loss of aged or immunocompromised loved ones because of people thinking it’s a joke.

I would hate for someone else to look like a fool poking fun at this disease and then to realize they had been spreading it:

Let’s Start With Simple Hygiene

I found it encouraging yesterday when I did a Walmart run that there was a line waiting to wipes for the carts. The experts are saying simple things like washing our hands, covering our coughs, and cleaning hard surfaces are huge first steps at combating the spread of this virus.

Similarly, in this season if you have any symptoms stay home!

We Need to Consider the Difference Between Panic and Planning

If your family needs to enter a 14-day quarantine do you have enough toilet paper? We are making fun of everyone for stocking up, but maybe most of us looked under the sink and realized we only had a week’s worth of TP. At places like Walmart, it only requires a slight uptick in purchasing a product to wipe out their supply line.

Once the supply is gone it looks like mass panic when it could have actually just been the stores didn’t maintain a large overstock.

Let’s stop blaming the media for panic

Let’s be real. The media’s job is to give us all the opinions and information out there. You are ultimately responsible to decide what is real.

I am seeing so many videos of people on the media blaming the media for the panic. Can I just say that is the definition of hypocrisy? And I’m not just talking about the celebrity doctor talking about media being a problem…if you share videos of the media talking about media being the problem you are also being hypocritical.

We should locally count the cost

I have seen a lot of different estimates of infection rate and fatality rate. Right now the best infection rate in the US I have seen is around 46%. In some countries like Germany, they are preparing for up to a 70% infection rate.

Similarly, the death rate is all over the place. Many estimate America will see a 1% fatality rate, but worldwide we have seen 3.7% and in Italy, the numbers look like they will climb well above 5%.

Just to use the lowest version of those numbers that would mean that of the 1,000 regular attenders at the church I am a part of 460 will contract COVID-19 and our leadership will do 5 COVID-19 related funerals in the next few weeks of people who attend regularly. This means our Pastors will probably end up doing closer to 10 total funerals because many people who aren’t regular attendees look to us during need.

If we don’t flatten the curve (see below) and end up with Europe like numbers we would see 700 people at my church infected and up to 35 deaths.

We can slow down the spread and keep the fatality rate low

Worldwide the areas where the fatality rate is the highest is because the medical facilities are becoming overwhelmed. If as a people we practice self-isolation we can slow the rate of transmission of this virus.

This will allow the healthcare system to give a better quality of care.

We need to do what we can to flatten the curve.

Mitigation efforts like social distancing help reduce the disease caseload on any given date, and can keep the healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed.

Schools, churches, and large gathering shutting down will save valuable lives.

Don’t Be Selfish

One of the going attitudes I am hearing right now is “I’m healthy so I have nothing to worry about”. For you as a person that’s probably true. But don’t just think about yourself.

I am thinking about a few people in my family who are getting older and have health issues. I have a feeling many other people are like me and have loved ones who it would be devastating to lose. How are your actions protecting them?

Closing and Full Disclosure

I write all this knowing that next week Stef and I plan to travel for a leadership training event where we will gather with about 20 other church leaders from around the east coast. Some may see this as hypocritical knowing I just gave all the dangers and our need to respond accordingly. My goal of this post was to get your thinking and questioning your stance on this virus and help people start a discussion towards finding balance.

So let me ask you some closing questions:

  1. Has confirmation bias prevented you from looking at the facts around COVID-19?
  2. How is your family responding and preparing for a COVID-19 quarantine?
  3. Are you looking for reputable sources or social media?
  4. Do you have any family members we can join you in praying for during this season?

Feel free to answer any or all of these questions below.


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