That’s the Disease Talking.

It’s too soon; it’s simply too soon. We don’t have enough tests and we really do not even know who should be tested or when. Do we test with possible exposure or only when showing symptoms? What about spouses or family members in the same home or workplace? We really don’t know, and we certainly have no idea who to believe anymore. It’s overloading us with information, misinformation, and straight our lies. And, that, is overwhelming us and the healthcare system. So, It’s too soon; it’s simply too soon.

I have learned by watching the world lately, (With the travel restrictions and social distancing, all of us have more time for that, right?!) that information overload equates to bad choices. I also have learned things that I don’t want to know, things that scare me, but that I – and you, too – NEED to know. These facts include:

  • We have not reached the peak for virus; it remains unknown.
  • Louisiana has highest viral infection growth rate in the world; a tenfold increase in 2 weeks!
  • There have been over 10,000 new cases in last 24 hours in our country.
  • We could be the next epicenter of the pandemic according to CDC.
  • New York’s infection “attack rate” is five times higher than the rest of the US.
  • The Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC) has received a formal request from Spain’s Ministry of Defense for international humanitarian assistance, NATO confirmed Monday in a statement, highlighting both medical and personal protective equipment as key areas of demand for Spain’s armed forces, who are supporting the country’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. 
  • There are at least 52,381 cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States, according to CNN Health’s tally of US cases that are detected and tested in the United States through US public health systems. At least 680 people have died.
  • The 2020 Olympics in Tokyo was postponed for about a year.
  • 54% of US population will be ordered to stay at home by midweek.
  • Connecticut has seen a spike of 200 more cases since yesterday.

Yesterday, a recreational ice rink was turned into a makeshift morgue in Spain. Emergency military units are bringing their dead to the Palacio de Hielo, or ‘Ice Palace’, in Madrid’s Hortaleza neighborhood. Yet, just hours later, our President said that his goal is to open up the country “as we near the end of our historic battle with the invisible enemy” packed churches on Easter morning. As a pastor who has made some difficult decisions for our school and parish and outside groups over the last two weeks, I believe that would be reckless. I also do not know if anyone would be ready to come back even IF we got the all clear. In other words, IF the pandemic was lessening, or IF we reached a leveling off of cases, would we even be ready to ‘take a chance’ and come to a packed church full of people, even those we love and worship with every week? I am doubtful; there is fear abounding, and it will take all of some time to find our normal life again. It’s too soon; it’s simply too soon.

As the United States discusses easing restrictions on commerce and government activity amid the spread of coronavirus, a recent spike in cases in Hong Kong shows the challenges of reopening society too soon. In late February, the number of cases in Hong Kong was relatively stable, but then their government began easing restrictions and reopening government institutions. The result? Hong Kong has been addressing a third wave of cases!

This past week, Tony Spell, pastor of Life Tabernacle Church in Baton Rouge, defied government orders and held services that drew about 1,000 people, in part by busing people in from across five Louisiana parishes. Spell said he’s heard a flood of criticism from fellow Christians urging him to close his doors. Many, Spell said, are citing a bible passage in which the Apostle Paul urges Christians to submit to “governing authorities.” Others ask him to consider the greater good. Spell has told CNN he believes the pandemic is “politically motivated.” I am a strong critic. I believe that he is being reckless. Pure and simple. He is a pastor, not an epidemiologist or health professional. He is playing with people’s lives. There have been a lot of good people, and prayerful Christians, that have lost their lives while praying. This isn’t about faith in God, or the healing powers of the Holy Spirit. This is about being realistic and caring about fellow human beings. He is being selfish.

Then you have Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who is of the opinion that old people, (i.e. those most at risk), should volunteer to die to save the economy. (Yes, the economy!) Appearing on Fox News, Patrick told Tucker Carlson, “As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren? …. So, my message is let’s get back to work, let’s get back to living. Let’s be smart about it and those of us who are 70-plus, we’ll take care of ourselves. But don’t sacrifice the country, don’t do that, don’t ruin this great America.” No, Lieutenant Governor, you are callous, politically motivated, and dead wrong, and because of your words, so will others be.

The Governor of New York, Andrew Como, recently had a differing view when he said that life is not disposable. He stated, “My mother is not expendable. Your mother is not expendable. We will not put a dollar figure on human life. We can have a public health strategy that is consistent with an economic one. No one should be talking about social Darwinism for the sake of the stock market.”

So, no, I am sorry, but cramming people into churches will only make the world more uncertain and might even make others severely ill. I cannot – we cannot – have deaths on our hands. We won’t. Not on my watch. [We will be making an announcement on our Easter plans at Saint Miriam by tomorrow.]

Lately, people have been so mean, and so dismissive of the life of others. The ‘me and not you’ has expanded now past just hoarding toilet paper. It is now against human life. ‘That’s just the disease talking’, some people say. God, I hope so; I pray it, otherwise people will die. What will we tell future generations about how we acted and who we killed in the name of an economy?

I promise you this, if we are kind and considerate: We will heal, but we must be one, together.

Let’s all be each other’s responsibility.

 

 


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