updated October 2022
Questions and Answers
Q: How is St. Clare’s current level of concern regarding COVID determined?
A: St. Clare’s is using the Community Transmission Rate to determine our COVID precautions.The Community Transmission Rate is based on the number of new COVID cases being reported in the community.
Q: Is that a different measurement than other places are using?
A: Most institutions, including local governments, are using the CDC’s Community Level measurement. The Community Level measure combines information on the number of new COVID cases with information on COVID-related hospital admissions and how many beds COVID patients are using. In other words, the CDC’s Community Level is influenced by both the number of new COVID cases and the severity of the cases.
Q: Is our measure, the Community Transmission Rate, more conservative than the Community Level measure?
A: Yes. If the number of new COVID cases is high but the number of new COVID hospitalizations is low, the Community Transmission Rate will likely be higher than the Community Level measure.
Q: Why are we focusing only on transmissions?
A: First, the Community Transmission Rate focuses on how likely an individual is to be exposed to COVID in their community, regardless of whether the resulting COVID case is mild or severe. St. Clare’s, and the community at large, have many people who are especially vulnerable to COVID, including people with compromised immune systems and people who cannot get the vaccine for medical reasons. When the transmission rate is high, we feel it is important to focus on reducing transmissions, even if COVID is likely to be mild for most people. It is our way of protecting the more vulnerable people at St. Clare’s and in our community.
Second, there is still substantial ambiguity surrounding the long-term effects of COVID. We feel that this ambiguity justifies focusing on transmission, given that even mild cases may have unknown long-term effects.
Finally, the health care systems have been under tremendous strain in recent years, and a surge in cases could push them past their resources. Since each transmission is a potential hospitalization, we feel it is appropriate to focus on transmissions to protect the health care system’s resources.
Q: What does “food only in managed areas” mean?
A: Food will be served in areas with high-quality ventilation and where people can spread out while eating. Additionally, everyone should remind one another to keep their masks on except while actively eating and drinking. Remember, too, there will always be a masks-only area.
Q: How does this relate to Genesis and Temple Beth Emeth?
A: The Genesis COVID committee determined that they do not dictate TBE and St. Clare’s COVID policies. Temple Beth Emeth has a similar but not identical policy. If we do joint events or have other space-sharing considerations, we will defer to the most careful/conservative policy in place at that time.
Q: What is a local emergency?
A: As we all know well, the pandemic has continued to surprise us with its changes. We’d consider a local emergency to be a health care shortage, or an appeal from health care officials to increase mitigations, or a severe local outbreak (including a large outbreak at St. Clare’s). It could also be the arrival of a new variant or disease, or something else we haven’t imagined! Basically, we wanted to allow for the possibility that things may change again in the future.
Q: Is this just how we do things forever?
A: Hopefully not! But for the moment, we feel it’s the best way to keep everyone safe. We plan to revisit the policy after 6 months, if not sooner.