Within the past 48 hours, the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has led to the shutdown of public schools, major sports events, and international travel, among others. The community spread of COVID-19 has impacted the country, both nationally and locally, as many towns have been forced to forgo certain community functions. Bayview has been no exception, as shown by the recent cancellation of LOU meals held on Wednesdays.
Amidst this sudden shutdown, it is natural to wonder how churches might be affected. This has not been lost on the leadership of Bayview Bible Church. Over the past days, discussions have taken place between them and the leaders of the Bayview Community Center. As of now, all mid-week ministries and Sunday Services will continue as scheduled.
It may be confusing to know how best to feel during the outbreak of a novel disease, but here are a few important facts to keep in mind:
The novel coronavirus is easily spread. COVID-19 hold an estimated R0 (pronounced r-not) rating of 1.4-2.1 by the World Health Organization (WHO), meaning that for every infected person, an average of 1-2 more people become infected. This is significantly higher than the R0 rating for influenza and the common cold. So although the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports only 16% of COVID-19 as severe, they are still highly contagious.
While the novel coronavirus is easily spread, it is also easily overcome. The WHO currently estimates a 3.4% mortality rate among confirmed coronavirus cases. This is significantly higher than influenza (<.1%), yet lower than SARS (9.6%), MERS(34.4%), Ebola (40.4%), and other epidemic diseases. Furthermore, the CDC expects the current mortality rate to lower as more cases become known.
Over the past two weeks, new COVID-19 cases in China have decreased, suggesting that the disease is following a predictable outbreak pattern. This leads medical experts to assume that similar pattern will occur outside of China, and with self-quarantine, the pattern could be less severe than that shown in China.
While facts are important, we do not intend to use them to brush away people’s concerns. We recognize that we live in a high-risk community where older individuals attend our church. We exist for the sake of people’s spiritual health, but physical health must also be of utmost importance. As a result, the church continues to work with its deacons and the community center to come up with ways to best serve Bayview during this uneasy time. Expect more updates from us about steps we plan to take to minister to the community.
We must look to the Lord in all of this. The spread of this new disease is not the result of a conspiracy, but the product of a fallen world. In times like these, we particularly understand the Apostle Paul when he writes, “In this dwelling we groan, longing to be in our heavenly dwelling.” Disease, like death, is a result of man’s original desire in the Garden to trust himself rather than God. We must not make that same mistake. There are always talking heads telling us how to act, think, and feel. We must look to the one true Head, the One who promises, through His sacrifice for sins, to establish a new home where there will be “no more death, or mourning, or crying, or pain.”
So in the meantime, while we “groan” in these earthly vessels, we ask those who display symptoms to rest at home and enjoy our Sunday podcast. We also encourage high risk individuals to self-quarantine and contact the church with ways we can help you in the form of errands, supplies, meals, and rides. We love Bayview, and the people in it. We pray for you during this time of fear, and continue to trust in the Prince of Peace.
“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” -2 Corinthians 5:1
Resting in Him,
Pastor Stephen Angliss