After an extensive discussion during our meeting on October 18th, all the members of our SUUF Covid Team agreed to make a recommendation to the SUUF Board of Directors that we revise our current policy regarding precautions during Sunday services. The requirement, or at least strong recommendation, for masking by all attendees was originally intended to provide some degree of extra protection for the most vulnerable members of our congregation. But this policy is now more restrictive than the current CDC requirements for indoor activities in areas with low transmission risk such as Yavapai and Coconino Counties. In our area, approximately 95% of the population now has some degree of immunity against serious Covid illness because of vaccination and/or previous infection.
We have also observed that most SUUF members do not feel that it is necessary to routinely wear masks in other group settings such as Friendly Feasts, discussion groups, during the social coffee hour after Sunday services, or during other community activities. Most churches or religious groups in our area are no longer requiring masks during services. In order to be consistent, we feel that it is time to make mask-wearing optional during our services.
We recommend masking for those who want or need extra protection.
Members of the congregation who may be at increased risk and those who provide care for such individuals should consult with their own medical professionals about the advisability of continuing to wear masks and maintaining distance from others in indoor settings.
We continue to urge anyone with symptoms that might be related to Covid illness to not attend services. The CDC does recommend that those recovering from Covid infection should wear masks in any social situation for at least five days after symptoms resolve, and that anyone possibly exposed to Covid should wear a mask, even if asymptomatic, until testing is clearly negative for infection.
It is always possible that an emergence of a new Covid variant may increase the risk of transmission in our area, necessitating a resumption of more restrictive measures for protection. Our Covid team will continue to monitor the situation regularly, and we strongly recommend that all members of the congregation, in consultation with their medical advisors, should avail themselves to the most recently available Covid boosters and regular yearly influenza immunizations.