๐Œ๐˜ ๐“๐Ž๐–๐ ๐‡๐€๐’ ๐€ ๐Œ๐Ž๐‘๐†๐”๐„ ๐“๐‘๐”๐‚๐Š

***And, another note to churches in areas with morgue trucks.***

Goodness, y’all. It’s taken me a few days to write this one. I write this one because I think it is a story many of you around the US are experiencing or will experience in the weeks to come. I hesitated to share this post – I don’t want it to come across as “sensationalized” or “over-exaggerated” or “fear-mongering” – that’s not my job. My job is to see beyond that to the population (that’s what epidemiology is). This week – it hit close to home.

๐“๐ก๐ข๐ฌ ๐ฐ๐ž๐ž๐ค, ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐ฆ๐š๐ฒ๐จ๐ซ ๐š๐ง๐ง๐จ๐ฎ๐ง๐œ๐ž๐ ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐œ๐จ๐ฎ๐ง๐ญ๐ฒ ๐ฌ๐ž๐œ๐ฎ๐ซ๐ž๐ ๐š ๐ฆ๐จ๐ซ๐ ๐ฎ๐ž ๐ญ๐ซ๐ฎ๐œ๐ค. ๐ˆ๐ง ๐ฆ๐ฒ ๐œ๐ข๐ญ๐ฒ. ๐…๐จ๐ซ ๐ฆ๐ฒ ๐ง๐ž๐ข๐ ๐ก๐›๐จ๐ซ๐ฌ. Somehow, we (the US) have lost sight that deaths are occurring in higher numbers than normal and that those deaths are individual dads, grandmas, sisters, friends- not statistics. One of the results of believing the conspiracy theories is a morgue truck. For our own communities, neighbors, and families. This is just not normal. Why has it become acceptable? Go here for more on the false reality: https://tinyurl.com/y5562u8x

My city, Waco in McLennan County, has held a weekly news conference for months with our Mayor, our County Judge, local health authorities, leaders from our largest healthcare systems, and leaders from our main clinic providing care to our poorest parts of the city, the Family Health Center. These weekly updates have been incredibly well organized with real-time data on local cases, hospitalizations, deaths, economic recovery, and plain ole’ good advice. I’ve appreciated how “human” these meetings have felt – most have families and are dealing with the school issues of sending kids back or not; our Judge talks emotionally and passionately about trying very hard to protect our businesses; Dr. Griggs (who leads the free clinic in town) talks about the need to protect our most vulnerable in terms of poverty; our healthcare leaders talk about their rock-star employees but also how tired and strained their staff is. Texas has a trigger metric to reduce capacity for businesses when we reach 15% hospital capacity for 7 consecutive days. All persons on the weekly meeting have stressed tirelessly that noone wants businesses to suffer, especially in Waco, when we have seen an economic boom – but, we have a high poverty rate. The poverty rate in Waco is nearly 30% – and in some areas of town, nearly 90% of children receive free or reduced-price lunch. These stats are higher than the State of Texas.

๐–๐ก๐ž๐ง ๐ข๐ญ ๐œ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ ๐ญ๐จ ๐‚๐Ž๐•๐ˆ๐ƒ-๐Ÿ๐Ÿ—, ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐ง๐ฎ๐ฆ๐›๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ ๐š๐ซ๐ž ๐ก๐ข๐ ๐ก๐ž๐ซ ๐ญ๐ก๐š๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ซ๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐“๐ž๐ฑ๐š๐ฌ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐”๐’. If you look at Picture 1, that probably looks a lot like the curve in the area you are in. When it comes to hospitalizations, our county has no more ICU beds (Picture 2). Our county has 39 hospitalizations per 100,000 residents (compare this to 31 in Texas and 29 in the US).

๐’๐จ, ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ฌ ๐ฐ๐ž๐ž๐ค’๐ฌ ๐ฆ๐ž๐ž๐ญ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌ ๐๐ข๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐ข๐œ๐ฎ๐ฅ๐ญ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ก๐ž๐š๐ซ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐œ๐จ๐ฎ๐ฅ๐ ๐ญ๐ž๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐ข๐ญ ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌ ๐๐ข๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐ข๐œ๐ฎ๐ฅ๐ญ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฅ๐ž๐š๐๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ฌ๐š๐ฒ. ๐Œ๐œ๐‹๐ž๐ง๐ง๐š๐ง ๐‚๐จ๐ฎ๐ง๐ญ๐ฒ ๐ก๐š๐ฌ ๐ฌ๐ž๐œ๐ฎ๐ซ๐ž๐ ๐š ๐ฆ๐จ๐ซ๐ ๐ฎ๐ž ๐ญ๐ซ๐ฎ๐œ๐ค. Our Mayor said, โ€œAlthough local mortuary services are not at capacity, there has been an increase in usage. With the continual rise in hospitalization, there is a risk for an increased number of deaths.โ€ Our local mortuaries and funeral homes can meet the demands right now. But, the morgue truck is in preparation of what we are at risk of seeing with deaths – they based this on what other parts of Texas have seen – places like El Paso that showed exponential growth, then hospital surges, then morgue trucks being needed. You might have seen those pictures where prisoners were asked to help with the influx of bodies. Other places in Texas, like Lubbock, have a standby morgue truck too.

Friends, this is the whole point of us (epidemiologists, public health officials, local health authorities) writing and speaking about COVID-19 day after day after day. The majority of us receive no financial gain, career advancements, or accolades for any of this work – and, most of us don’t want any of that and were not the reasons we got into this profession. It’s simply to help educate the public on the truth of the situation. Today, that truth is the probable need for a morgue truck. In my city. For my neighbors. Many of you in other parts of the US are living this same scenario.

๐“๐ก๐ข๐ฌ ๐ข๐ฌ ๐ฐ๐ก๐ž๐ซ๐ž ๐ฐ๐ž ๐š๐ซ๐ž ๐ข๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐”๐’. ๐ˆ’๐ฆ ๐ฌ๐ญ๐ซ๐ฎ๐ ๐ ๐ฅ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ญ๐จ ๐Ÿ๐ข๐ง๐ ๐ฐ๐จ๐ซ๐๐ฌ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ž๐ง๐ ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ฌ ๐ฉ๐จ๐ฌ๐ญ. ๐’๐จ, ๐ˆ’๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐ฅ๐ž๐š๐ฏ๐ž ๐ข๐ญ ๐ก๐ž๐ซ๐ž. ๐‹๐ž๐ญ’๐ฌ ๐ฅ๐จ๐ฏ๐ž ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐œ๐จ๐ฆ๐ฆ๐ฎ๐ง๐ข๐ญ๐ข๐ž๐ฌ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ง๐ž๐ข๐ ๐ก๐›๐จ๐ซ๐ฌ. ๐ˆ๐ง ๐ฌ๐จ๐ฅ๐ข๐๐š๐ซ๐ข๐ญ๐ฒ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ฌ๐ž๐ฅ๐Ÿ-๐ฅ๐ž๐ฌ๐ฌ ๐Ÿ๐ซ๐ž๐ž๐๐จ๐ฆ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ฐ๐ž๐š๐ซ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐š ๐ฆ๐š๐ฌ๐ค ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ฌ๐ญ๐š๐ฒ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ก๐จ๐ฆ๐ž. ๐ˆ๐ญ ๐ข๐ฌ ๐š๐ง ๐ข๐ง๐๐ข๐ฏ๐ข๐๐ฎ๐š๐ฅ ๐œ๐ก๐จ๐ข๐œ๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐š๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐ž๐œ๐ญ๐ฌ ๐ž๐ง๐ญ๐ข๐ซ๐ž ๐œ๐จ๐ฆ๐ฆ๐ฎ๐ง๐ข๐ญ๐ข๐ž๐ฌ. ๐’๐จ๐ฆ๐ž ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ฎ๐ฌ ๐ฐ๐ก๐จ ๐ฃ๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ญ ๐ซ๐ž๐œ๐ž๐ข๐ฏ๐ž๐ ๐š ๐ฆ๐จ๐ซ๐ ๐ฎ๐ž ๐ญ๐ซ๐ฎ๐œ๐ค.

***A special note to churches: I know I keep circling back to ask churches to proactively show solidarity to your community by moving outside, online, or requiring masks at ALL times. In light of the morgue trucks being deployed all over the US (just google your area), this can still be one of our greatest display of the Gospel to our communities. I receive messages from people that do not understand why hospitals are full in their area, but churches are still meeting with masks being an optional choice based on comfort level. As a Christian, as a ministry-family, I don’t understand it either. Many areas let churches have a mask exemption that makes no sense from a public health perspective. Leaders, please see this an opportunity to be the Good Samaritan and not walk by our healthcare systems, long-term care facilities, and mortuaries. We can still have our food banks and testing clinics. But, people are watching what we do or do not do in our sanctuaries at our response or non-response. To you leaders who have taken the brave choice to move outside, online, or require mask at all times in the sanctuary, thank you. I know that has come at a cost for many of you. I’ve read all of your messages and believe me, there are lots and lots of others standing with you. All church sources about indoor mask recommendations, mask exemptions, living according to Galatians 5, and the main church webinar are linked at the end.***

-Friendly neighbor epidemiologist

SOURCES:

El Paso story and picture – https://www.texastribune.org/2020/11/15/coronavirus-texas-el-paso-inmates-morgue-deaths/

Waco Trib article about the weekly news conference – https://wacotrib.com/news/local/mclennan-county-secures-refrigerated-truck-as-potential-covid-19-mobile-morgue/article_bd0ed27a-34e3-11eb-a456-d3b0e26bec38.html

Lubbock news article – https://www.everythinglubbock.com/news/local-news/mobile-morgue-on-standby-in-lubbock-as-covid-19-deaths-keep-coming/

McLennan County data – https://sph.uth.edu/dept/bads/covid19-dashboard

๐‚๐‡๐”๐‘๐‚๐‡ ๐’๐Ž๐”๐‘๐‚๐„๐’:

๐‚๐ก๐ฎ๐ซ๐œ๐ก ๐–๐ž๐›๐ข๐ง๐š๐ซ: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2XfobrA7wA…

๐–๐ก๐ฒ ๐œ๐ก๐ฎ๐ซ๐œ๐ก๐ž๐ฌ ๐ฌ๐ก๐จ๐ฎ๐ฅ๐ ๐ ๐จ ๐›๐ž๐ฒ๐จ๐ง๐ ๐ฌ๐ญ๐š๐ญ๐ž ๐ฆ๐š๐ฌ๐ค ๐ž๐ฑ๐ž๐ฆ๐ฉ๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง๐ฌ: https://tinyurl.com/y5aou2b6

C๐Œ๐ƒ๐€ ๐ฌ๐ญ๐š๐ญ๐ž๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐ญ: https://cmda.org/a-plea-to-our-churches/…

๐‡๐ž๐ซ๐ž’๐ฌ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐Ÿ๐ฎ๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐‚๐ก๐ฎ๐ซ๐œ๐ก/๐…๐š๐ข๐ญ๐ก ๐ฌ๐ž๐ซ๐ข๐ž๐ฌ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ ๐ž๐š๐ฌ๐ž ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐š๐œ๐œ๐ž๐ฌ๐ฌ:

1. Who are the neighbors? https://tinyurl.com/y9ykykve

2. What does it mean to have faith over fear? Praying Psalm 91 and living Galatians 5. I also talk about John MacArthur’s stance on church and masking in this post. https://tinyurl.com/yxsaatcf

3. Now is the time to rethink indoor church: https://tinyurl.com/y5uk354l

4. This is the best sermon I’ve heard so far on this topic by Andy Stanley. If you haven’t heard it yet, I’d highly recommend it.: https://tinyurl.com/y6fqajxc

5. Masks are faith-filled and faith-ful. Faith-filled is about us. Faith-ful is about the neighbor. Both/And are important.. The distinction matters. https://tinyurl.com/y2od5n6f

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