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Faith leaders asked to take services online

Wednesday, December 16, 2020 by Katy McElroy

As Covid-19 cases rise, so do concerns about about community spread, hospital admissions and ICU capacity. While Austin is still at Stage 4 on the Covid-19 risk-based guidelines chart, health officials have stated their concern that the continued rising of these indicators could trigger a move into Stage 5, especially as folks navigate the holiday season. Yesterday, Travis County Judge Andy Brown and Mayor Steve Adler sent a letter to Austin’s faith leaders urging them to move their services to the virtual realm. “We need your continued diligence to prevent reaching a crisis point and urge you to consider taking your holiday services virtual. We are particularly concerned for the elderly and those whose compromised physical condition leave them more vulnerable. We are so close to getting the vaccine to these neighbors that we feel it is especially necessary to urge their protection now to the greatest extent possible,” the letter says. Brown and Adler go on express their understanding for financial barriers to moving church services online, and request that if virtual services are not feasible, for masking and social distancing to at least be strictly enforced. “If your congregation has the digital capabilities, it would be helpful if you could once again consider virtual worship. If your congregation does not have that as an option, we ask that you consider other necessary changes to holiday services to allow for maintenance of masking and social distancing guidelines. We urge special and renewed discipline and enforcement of masking, social distancing, and avoiding multiple sustained contacts among those in larger groups, especially to protect those most vulnerable.”

Editor’s Note: Andy Brown is on the board of the Capital of Texas Media Foundation, which is the parent nonprofit of the Austin Monitor.

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