Masking and Public Health Update—December 2022

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DECEMBER 14, 2022

Dear friends,

As you have likely noted, late last week King County Public Health officials reasserted a strong recommendation for masks to be worn in public indoor settings (which would include church services). The primary reason for this is the confluence of three viruses—COVID, influenza and RSV—sweeping through the population as winter approaches. The impetus for this reassertion of the mask recommendation at this time is about hospitalization rates and capacity, and the fact that our health care system is teetering with overloaded staff, insufficient beds to care for all needing inpatient care, long wait times in emergency departments, etc. It is incumbent on us to do our part with this in mind.

Doing our part means a few very important things, and I ask that we each take these very seriously:

  1. If you are sick, stay home! If someone in your close orbit falls ill, you need to stay home! If you have any respiratory symptoms, a new headache, sore throat, congestion—lie low, allowing time to declare whether it is an acute illness or not, and consider testing.
  2. Get your flu vaccine and COVID boosters.
  3. Mask when indoors in public settings (grocery, church, concert halls, holiday parties, church, etc.). We expect things will subside again as warmer weather returns, but for now, we can do this.

At this point, the public health advisory is a “mask recommendation” rather than a “mask mandate,” and Saint Mark’s Cathedral will follow their advisory as part of our commitment to the welfare of all. Our signage will change accordingly this week, but the south pews remain a distanced and masked section. The rest of our seating is “mask recommended but not required.” And please remember there is livestream for our principal services, including Christmas Eve.

It is my hope that if enough of us engage these guidelines, we may avert a more stringent intervention prompted by worsening crisis in the health care system. As I have said several times in these last three years, we are in this together, and what we do impacts others. I am grateful for this community and your willingness to adapt as needed.

Blessings and peace,

The Very Rev. Steven L. Thomason, Dean & Rector

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