3 thoughts on “Loving Our Neighbors During a Corona Virus Outbreak

  1. Reblogged this on Navigating by Faith and commented:

    Over a month has passed since I wrote and published Loving Our Neighbors During a Corona Virus Outbreak on March 17, 2020. Washington was the first state in the US to declare a state of emergency (in February) followed by a handful of States in the next couple of weeks. Donald Trump declared a national emergency on March 16th. By March 17th, day I published the article, 48 states had officially declared a State of Emergency.
    When I began tracking the global number of cases, deaths and recovered patients on the Johns Hopkins site as of 2:50 PM on March 16th, they reported only 4,200. A Business Insider article the following day reported 4,600 cases . As of 1:10pm on March 17th, the number of cases had risen to 5,702. There were only 94 deaths reported in US as of that time, but anyone could see that the numbers were going to rise exponentially.
    We had been vaguely paying attention to the reports from China, and we perked up a little more as the first scary reports began to come out of Italy. Still, we were largely nonplussed by the news, going about our daily business, until about the second week in March when President Trump declared the national emergency after at least a week or two of experts pressuring him to do it.
    Many of us were skeptical, me included. We wanted to believe the President when he it was “under control”, and we didn’t have to worry here in the US. Others (primarily of the other political stripe) were becoming shriller by the day in their complaining that we/the President should be doing more. Many political inbetweeners, like myself (not that there are many of us), were skeptical of both sides, but there was enough credible reporting from hard hit areas of the world that it seemed to make sense to take the threat seriously.
    It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to participate in a Zoom conference with a virologist who researched the SARS 1 virus for the National Institute of Health that I realized this was no typical flu virus. I began tracking the numbers, and I wrote the article the next day. One month to the day later (at 11:56 AM), Johns Hopkins reported 641,166 cases in the US and 31,590 deaths – the most confirmed (and reported) cases and deaths of any country in the world.
    While these numbers may rival a bad flu season, we need to keep in mind that these are the numbers after we have lived under stay-at-home orders in most places in the country. What would the numbers be like if we had not done that? No one knows.
    The flu typically infects more people each year, and the death rate of the flu is a little over .01% As of the date of this writing (April 21, 2020, at 12:47 PM), COVID-19 has resulted in a death rate of 6.89% worldwide, 13.40% in Italy (which has been particularly hard hit) and 5.37 in the US. That is over 50 times the death rate (in the US) of the flu.
    As of the today, the numbers are all still climbing in the US. We haven’t peaked yet, though we hope the peak is right around the corner, maybe even by next week. The are flattening out, like we hoped, but they are still climbing. We aren’t out of these woods yet.
    If the numbers flatten out soon, the number of cases and deaths will continue to rise, though the percentage of new cases will start to level out or come down. The death rate will also level off and might come down as the number of people recovering will begin to pace and then outpace the number of new cases.
    But here’s the thing: no one expects for the virus to go away.
    Flattening out just means that the numbers will stop increasing exponentially. When we flatten out, we will still experience a certain number of new cases and deaths every day. Every day.
    The world as we knew it isn’t going to be the same for quite a while.
    As Christians, we should be focused on loving our neighbors through this pandemic. We should be sensitive to the vulnerable people in our midst. While most people will recover, we know that COVID-19 hits certain people very hard – the elderly and people with certain conditions, like diabetes. The death rate for those over 60 is much higher than the death rate for people under 60, and the death rate for people over 80 is double that of people over 60.
    As I type this, I am very aware of the devastating economic toll the State of Emergency has taken on our economy – especially small businesses and people who work (or no longer work) for them. We haven’t experienced unemployment at this level since the Great Depression. I own a small business myself and squirm at night wondering how we are going to hold on.
    The Federal government has pumped billions and billions of dollars into the economy to try to prop it up (at no small cost to the future taxpayers), and it isn’t enough. More small businesses have been turned down for the Paycheck Protection Program loans than received them. Many of those small businesses won’t survive another thirty days of lock down.
    While people that don’t own businesses may not feel particularly bad about the business owners who are suffering, those small businesses employ hundreds of thousands and millions of people. Every business that can’t open back up when the stay-at-home order is lifted represents an exponential number of people who will not return to work.
    How do we balance between keeping people physically safe from the virus and keeping people employed and self-supporting? That’s the challenge.
    Where is the right tipping point when people can open their doors for business again?
    We have to rely on the experts for that.
    I have seen no end of the articles and videos on social media by self-proclaimed experts. We all gravitate toward what we are inclined to believe. My “friends” on social media are a diverse mix, so I see nearly equal numbers of articles on both extremes.
    They can’t all be true!
    I have read a fair number of them. I am smarter than the average bear (if you go by IQ, college and law school performance), but I can’t sort it out. I don’t have the right background, education or experience to be able to decipher which “experts” I should be listening to, and neither do 95% of the people reading those articles.
    We do have some experts that are chosen to provide guidance on these issues with the right kind of backgrounds, education and experience. If we believe that God puts governing authorities in place to which we should submit , then we Christians should honor those authorities, right?
    We often think we know better (and maybe some of us do, though I submit we don’t know it at the time), but subjecting ourselves to governing authorities, as Paul says we should in Romans 13, means that we don’t substitute our judgment for those in authority above us – even when we disagree.
    Of course, we can all think of examples of things governing authorities might order us to do, like renouncing God, that we should not follow. Stay-at-home orders don’t fall into that category.
    A stay-at-home order is not clearly against any Scriptural mandate.
    Though we may think that we know where that tipping point lies between saving lives and saving people from economic disaster, we are not in positions of authority to call those shots, and we need to honor those who are. It doesn’t matter if your governor is Republican or Democrat, God has established them in authority (if we are going to be consistent in our reading of Scripture).
    David honored Saul even when God had spoken through the prophet Samuel that God would be taking the kingdom away from Saul and giving it to David. Even when Saul was seeking to kill David in paranoia and jealousy, still David honored him. David refused to take Saul’s life multiple times when he had the opportunity, and David even honored him in his death – because God had established him as King.
    If you are Christian and disagree with the continuation of the stay-at -home orders, you certainly have a right to your opinion, but God expects you to honor the authority He has established. You shouldn’t be protesting that authority or encouraging others to ignore it.
    When the stay-at-home orders are lifted, we also need to continue to love our neighbors, including the vulnerable people among us. The virus isn’t going to go away overnight, and experts are saying it is likely to “bounce back”. Wash your hands. Wear masks. Keep you distance from people. Use care in making sure you aren’t spreading the virus.
    Don’t do it just because you might contract the virus. Do it because you might give it to others. Chances are that you will survive it, especially if you are young, healthy or both, but you could be someone else’s death sentence. Loving your neighbor means treating them as you would want to be treated. Conduct yourself as if you were vulnerable and the virus would be deadly to you, and you will be loving your neighbor as yourself.


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