COVID-19 Statement from Executive Director Joe Swimmer
UPDATE: Tuesday, March 24
I have heard from so many members of the Episcopal Parish Network community over the last few weeks. And, the work that you are doing to pastor your congregations and communities during these difficult circumstances is inspiring. EPN has developed a number of resources to assist parishes during this crisis. You can find them here www.ceepnetwork.org/ceep-network-resources-for-the-covid-19-crisis/ or by reaching out to us directly.
Many have reached out to share their concern for those at the EPN conference who tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus. Since my last update to you, we have learned of two additional people who were at the conference that have tested positive. Based on what health officials have told us, it is impossible to be certain if these individuals had the virus while at the conference or acquired it after leaving. Regardless, all of us should be taking precautions to protect ourselves and those around us. If you have any symptoms, please get in touch with your health care provider right away. And, all of us should continue to practice the social distancing recommended by local, state, and federal officials.
While I can’t share the condition of any one individual, what I can say is that I have been in touch with almost all of the individuals who tested positive for the virus and attended the conference that we are aware of at this moment. In communicating with them – either directly or through a representative – I can share that these individuals are on the path to recovery.
As you continue to hold your congregations and communities close and adjust to our new normal, I hope you will join us in continuing to pray for them as well as all those who have been impacted by this virus.
UPDATE: Saturday, March 14, Noon
In the last several days, and in conjunction with public health authorities, we have looked closer at the connection between the attendees at the Episcopal Parish Network conference in Louisville. With this closer look, we have become aware that all of those who have tested positive for COVID-19 (coronavirus) were in the rector and dean pre-conference together. At this point, we are aware of six individuals who have tested positive for the virus. The Louisville Metro Department of Public Health & Wellness is reaching out to attendees present at that session.
They are conducting this outreach out of an abundance of caution. Since it has been more than 20 days since our conference ended, we are well outside the incubation period. The health officials believe that anyone who was likely to contract the virus at this session would have shown symptoms by now. Local health agencies with jurisdiction have not provided any additional direction at this point. However, if you are experiencing any symptoms of the virus, including coughing, shortness of breath and a fever, please contact your healthcare provider.
I know this is a trying time for all of us as we put our energies toward caring for our congregants and communities, who are experiencing the repercussions of the public health crisis. Know that we are here to support you as we get through this together.
We hold all those affected close in prayer.
UPDATE: Wednesday, March 11, 12:30 PM
We have learned that two additional conference attendees are currently presumed to have COVID-19 (coronavirus). Both are under the care of medical professionals and awaiting final test results.
We have been in touch with the health agencies in the home communities of both individuals involved. And, we continue to be in touch with DC Health and the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health & Wellness. These health agencies continue to work together on tracing travel and movement.
At this time the guidance we have received from health agencies has not changed. Simply being at the conference with someone not showing symptoms is not a risk factor. We ask you continue to follow CDC recommendations on proper hygiene and to be in touch with your health care provider if you develop any symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath and a fever.
This is a difficult time for so many, and we know many of you are providing important pastoral care to people in your communities impacted by this virus. Please join us as we continue to pray for those affected and support each other through this time.
I will be in touch as we have more information to share.
UPDATE: Monday, March 9, 7:30 PM
I am following up with you to share the latest information on COVID-19 (the novel corona virus) and its impact on attendees at our recent conference in Louisville, KY. As you are likely aware by now, we received notice that a colleague who was in attendance tested positive for the virus. Since receiving this information, we have been in touch with health officials in Louisville and Washington D.C. Because the individual involved resides in the District of Columbia, DC Health has taken the lead on investigating this case.
This evening, DC Health issued the following guidance:
“A D.C. resident who tested positive for COVID-19 attended the recent EPN conference. Based on our investigation, they were asymptomatic, meaning they were not experiencing symptoms like fever or cough, while they were at the conference. Therefore, there is no identified risk of exposure to EPN conference attendees as a result of contact with this case. All attendees and members of the public are urged to follow the well-established prevention tips like staying home if sick and calling ahead to a health provider if experiencing symptoms. More information about COVID-19 can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html.”
I want to thank the hard-working teams at DC Health and the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health & Wellness for keeping us updated and informed. We will continue to be in touch as the situation develops and with any additional necessary guidance.
We continue to pray for our friends and colleagues at Christ Church Georgetown as well as everyone across the country and around the world impacted by this virus.
If you have any questions, please let me know.
By now you may have seen the news reports that an attendee at our recent conference in Louisville, KY, tested positive for COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus). I hope you will join us in praying for our colleague’s quick recovery.
Out of an abundance of caution, we have contacted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as state health officials in Kentucky and in Washington, D.C., where this person resides. As we receive guidance from health officials we will share it with you.
We are also monitoring the recommendations given to organizers of other conferences where attendees have tested positive. So far, their expert opinion has been that simply attending a conference with someone who tests positive is not a risk factor. Please refer to the guidance given by D.C. health officials to the attendees at the recent AIPAC Policy conference where two attendees tested positive for COVID-19.
If you develop symptoms that are associated with COVID-19, you should seek medical attention immediately. According to the CDC, such symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath and a fever.
I know that many of you are already taking steps in your own communities to prevent the spread of this virus including limiting direct contact between individuals attending church and altering the way communion is offered that is in keeping with our religious practice while also minimizing contact.
In addition, we should all be vigilant in following the CDC recommendations for everyone to follow standard hygiene practices to prevent the spread of disease including:
- Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
- Covering your cough or sneeze with your elbow or a tissue, which can be thrown away
We will be in touch once we have additional information.