Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran COVID-19 Resources
The COVID-19 pandemic has not gone away, and we may very well be living the second wave of the pandemic here in Alabama. In early May 2020, we were seeing 200 new cases every day on average, yet by the end of May we started averaging 500+ new cases every day. Now in June 2020 we are averaging almost 1000 new cases per day. As of July, Alabama has over 38,000 cases; the U.S. has over 2 million cases and over 125,000 deaths. SOTH has formed a COVID-19 Task Force. To provide additional resources to the congregation we will update this COVID page periodically. When it is closer towards a returning to the building date, we will post our return protocols here as well.
 
Current Status (updated July 1, 2020)
We are in Phase 1 of our COVID-19 transitioning process. The building remains closed, but the church is open and active in ministry. Please check out the home page for all of our current ministry opportunities.
 
We are going to try a Distribution of Holy Communion on the second Sundays of the month. The first to occur on July 12, 2020. Please click here for videos on our protocol and plans for the safety of all.
 
Guidelines
Evangelical Lutheran Church of America: LINK
 
National Guidelines: LINK
 
ELCA National Guidelines: “Be mindful that the “staged” or “phased” approach presented in a number of resources will likely not be a linear one; there may be times of gradual reopening as infections decrease, followed by restrictions if new waves of infections emerge. In all situations, you will want to err on the side of love for your neighbor and know that change will be inevitable. Patience, grace, and flexibility will be necessary as you strive to make the most appropriate decisions for the people of God in your place at this time. In addition to worship planning, it will be helpful to spend time reflecting upon on what you have done online or in-person, as this time will likely lead to new insights and discoveries for worshiping community.”
 
ELCA-Southeast Synod: LINK
 
May 14 Letter from Bishop Strickland: LINK
 
Extended Guidelines: LINK
 
Executive Summary from ELCA-SES Extended Guidelines: “All are at risk, regardless of race, age, religion, occupation, and health status. Up to 50% of transmission of the virus causing COVID-19 can occur from people who have no symptoms. The virus is spread by close physical contact and exposed surfaces;  the virus can spread at least 6 feet in the air, it can remain in the air for up to 3 hours, and it can remain on surfaces for 72 hours. There remains no vaccine or drug to cure COVID-19. Our only tactic to save lives, protect our loved ones, and show mercy to our neighbor is to physically distance ourselves (aka, social distancing). We must stay home as much as possible, wear cloth face coverings (i.e, masks), wash our hands frequently, and transition into a new normal way of life. Our pre-pandemic old way of life is over. It is not going to return. We can however successfully transition to a new normal that includes returning to in-person worship and other activities we desperately desire. But we must do so cautiously, methodically and thoughtfully. Until there is a vaccine against COVID-19, it will continue plaguing our lives and hamper our transition to physical gatherings.”
 
Ecumenical Guidelines: Resuming Care-filled Worship and Sacramental Life during a Pandemic: LINK
 
Ecumenical Guidelines: “Whatever the Church does in its gatherings and other ministries expresses our understanding of who God is, what it means to be disciples of Jesus, and how the Holy Spirit empowers us to be witnesses to what God intends for the world. In times of crisis, when we must address new challenging practical concerns, our basic theological convictions still apply: love of God and neighbor; regard for human bodies and fellowship; worship and sacraments; inclusive hospitality that welcomes all and avoids stigmatizing others; and the beauty of God, the world, and human creativity.”
 
Centers for Disease Control: LINK
 
The CDC has a lot of different guidance published. Common guidance throughout includes wearing cloth face masks, washing your hands, extra cleaning, physical distancing > 6 feet, and staying home (particularly when you may be sick).
 
If you are sick, look at these guidelines: LINK
 
If someone in your home is sick, look at these guidelines: LINK
 
Data
 
There is a lot of information on the web. The consistent, reliable source of data that we are relying on at this time are from the state health department. The CDC also now provides data by state of hospital capacity during this time.
 
Alabama State Health Department COVID-19 Dashboard: LINK
 
CDC COVID-19 Hospital Capacity: LINK