By Carol Coffey, President of the Board of Trustees
Spring 2022. Feeling good! It seemed like COVID was in the rear-view mirror, that the main danger was passed, that life was returning to normal. I was double vaccinated and double boosted. I am O Negative blood type, which, I had read, gives some protection from COVID. Since COVID began in March of 2020, I spent most of my time alone at my cabin on Cherokee Lake. I mostly stayed clear of crowds and people who did not mask. I did not get COVID.
Now, summer of 2022. No one was wearing face masks anymore, not even in doctors’ offices. No more staying out of crowds, no more social distancing. Then the phone rang. It was Linda, my significant other. Linda had coached me on staying safe. And she was very careful. She had a message I did not want to hear. “I just tested positive for COVID!” she said. The only thing I could think to say was a lame, “You’re kidding.” She was not. We had been together the previous weekend. Chances are we had shared more than a good time.
My first step was to take the test myself. The longest 15 minutes were those spent waiting and hoping for the little lines on the test strip to fade. They did not. Instead they lingered, mocking me for my overconfidence. What to do now? My grandson lives with me in Knoxville. Let him know so he could be careful, and maybe find somewhere else to stay until it was safe for him to come back to my house. I had several appointments scheduled in the next week. Change them. I had run into a friend from church yesterday at Costco…. warn her. Reschedule the dinner with one of my friends at our favorite Italian restaurant.
I never really felt bad. I had trouble sleeping one night because of congestion, but that was pretty much it. I thought it was just summer allergies, or a summer cold.
What has happened? A new variant of COVID has appeared. It is much more contagious than the first COVIDs. Just a few droplets are all that are needed to cause an infection. All those folks who put off taking the vaccine, who gave COVID a place to hide, to reproduce, to mutate-- helped the virus change.
What do we do now? What does Westside do? The Reopening Committee met the Monday before the most recent Board Meeting. They had wanted Westside to be back to normal operations as soon as it was safe. The Committee had been pleased with the progress toward normal that the church was making. We had a fun Fourth of July at the church. But it was obvious that things had changed, the pendulum was swinging back, cases and even deaths from COVID were increasing in the state and country. The Reopening Committee is dedicated first to the safety of our members and guests. They wanted to be ahead of the curve instead of chasing it.
The Reopening Committee does not make the final decision, the Board of Trustees does. The committee recommended to the Board that:
• A. Masks will be worn indoors
• B. Attendees to socially distance and sit with family group or bubble
• C. No in-person coffee hour
• D. Choir to wear masks while singing
• E. No congregational singing
• F. Speakers to use separate speaking areas and microphones
The Board approved the Reopening Committee’s recommendations.
We are not saying don’t come to church. We are saying come and be careful. Enjoy your friends and take care of them and of yourself.
We hope that you will approve, too. Please know that we are doing all we can to bring WUUC back to where it was before COVID came. The friendships and good times that we have together are precious. We want more of them. We want to keep you healthy and safe, while we recover from this pandemic.