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The 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic: Notes for Our Saviour’s Atonement Lutheran Church, New York, NY 


Dear siblings in Christ,


As you are likely aware, there has been an outbreak of a novel (new to humans) coronavirus that has spread around the world, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic. There are many local cases in the New York area, and community transmission - the spread of the virus and its illness from people to people - will increase in upcoming weeks. 


It is likely that things will become very unpredictable and even scary. Public gatherings have been canceled as the virus spreads, and we can expect that we know people who become sick or even die. If many people become sick all at once, it can overload our medical system and prevent people from getting the medical care that they need. As a church, we remember that God’s faithfulness to us does not waver, and that God’s great love for us is a comfort in times of crisis. We also know that serving our neighbor is the calling of the church. 


Below is very important information for the coming weeks based on what we know and on the best recommendations of our public health authorities. 


For up-to-date information, check the NYC Healthy web site. You can sign up for text alerts from the city by texting COVID to 692-692. 


  1. What is a coronavirus? A coronavirus is a type of virus that infects the respiratory system. This coronavirus, called SARS-CoV2, results in an illness known as COVID-19. It first infected people in the city of Wuhan in Hubei province in China late in 2019, and has since spread to countries around the world. 

  2. What are the symptoms of coronavirus infection? Most COVID-19 patients experience a fever, which may be high, and a dry cough. It can progress to pneumonia. Around 20% of people who get sick will need hospitalization. Severe illness is particularly likely for people over 50 and those with underlying health conditions such as hypertension, COPD, and a history of smoking. In mild and moderate cases, illness lasts around two weeks; those with severe disease are often sick longer. Thankfully, children appear less likely to experience illness. 

  3. How is the virus transmitted? The virus can be transmitted by contact with an infected person. When sick people cough, speak, sneeze, or sing, they expel droplets that contain the virus that can travel around 3-6 feet. If the virus then comes into contact with someone else’s nose, mouth, or eyes, that person can become infected. In addition, if a sick person sneezes or coughs into their hand and then touches a surface like a doorknob or subway pole, the virus can get onto that surface. Then, anyone who touches the surface and then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth can become infected. It takes between two and fourteen days for people to show symptoms after being infected, and scientists believe that people are contagious a day or two before symptoms begin. 


How to take care of yourself and your community:

  1. The best way to avoid getting sick is to wash your hands and avoid touching your face. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds - about as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. Make sure to scrub the backs of your hands and between your fingers. Hand sanitizer also works (make sure it is at least 60% alcohol). Practice not touching your face when out and about, especially when you have touched communal surfaces such as elevator buttons, doorknobs, and subway poles and railings. 

  2. Stay home as much as possible. If you can work from home, do so. If you can avoid taking the subway by walking or biking to work or on errands, do so. Follow instructions from the city. 

  3. Clean household surfaces, like countertops, doorknobs, faucet knobs, etc. regularly. 

  4. Practice “social distancing”: Cancel non-essential social gatherings and avoid contact with others. This is a very hard thing, but it is critical at this phase of a pandemic. Here is a good explanation of why this matters.

  5. Fight anti-Asian racism. Viruses do not discriminate based on national origin or ethnicity. Unfortunately, Asian-Americans in our city have reported verbal and physical harassment due to a racist association with the virus. Speak out against this when you see it. 

  6. Check in with your family and friends. If you live alone, make sure that someone is there to check in on you if you get sick. If you know someone who lives alone, reach out to them by phone or text message regularly. Inform your family and friends about how to stay healthy and minimize community spread.

  7. Make sure you have supplies for a few weeks. Not everyone is in a financial situation to do this, but it is recommended by the CDC that every household maintain a supply of about two weeks of nonperishable food such as beans, rice, pasta, etc. Do not hoard- stock up slowly, so get some extras every time you go food shopping. Make sure you also have a supply of the medications that you are prescribed, and get an extra month or two if possible. Don’t forget about pet food and cat litter. 



If you get sick and suspect you may have COVID-19, stay home, isolate yourself as much as possible from other members of your household, and call your doctor for instructions. If you need help finding a doctor, call 311. 


It is possible that if you have mild symptoms you will not be tested for the virus, as tests are in short supply. 

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