On Tuesday, August 10, the Minnesota Department of Health reported 1,690 new cases of positive COVID-19 tests in the state, and seven new deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also reported as of Tuesday that 27 counties in Minnesota have a high level of COVID-19 community transmission. Another 44 counties in our state are considered to be at a substantial spread level. Community spread, hospitalizations, and deaths have risen across the country in what some are calling the “fourth surge” since the pandemic began last year.
Churches around the Conference are prayerfully considering this alarming data as they look toward making plans for the fall season. The Conference is also giving this data careful attention as it seeks to start offering a variety of in-person programs in the coming weeks.
Last Saturday, the Conference Board of Directors reviewed a new policy drafted by staff members that would guide COVID-19 protocols and requirements for Conference-sponsored, in-person activities until further notice. The policy, formally approved by the Executive Committee on Tuesday, also provides guidelines for protocols in the Conference office and for staff engagement in Conference activities. Read the entire policy here.
“The Board had a thoughtful and thorough discussion about how we could best provide for the health and safety of staff and Conference members given this current COVID-19 situation,” said Conference Minister Shari Prestemon. “We want to be a responsible member of the broader community while also offering programs that many are eager to resume. That caused us to make some tough decisions, especially in regards to our overnight activities, but I believe those decisions are wise and faithful ones in this moment.”
Overnight activities sponsored by the Conference, such as outdoor ministry and youth events, will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination in order to register. Participation in other in-person activities of the Conference will require masking. The Conference will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and adapt policies and procedures as the situation warrants.