Lens of the Future: August 18, 2021

The LENS committee has taken a long and hard look at the metrics that we have been using to determine the level of opening. To put it mildly, many things have changed since we first developed the metrics, including the availability of the vaccines and the recent spread of Covid variants. There is also a much better understanding in the epidemiological community of what parameters best reflect the level of Covid transmission in a community, and this information is available from a variety of sources.

The LENS committee has elected to replace the individual metrics that we have been following with a composite “Risk Level” that is calculated and published by CovidActNow.org. CovidActNow.org is an initiative of the Act Now Coalition, and is a partnership of Georgetown University Medical Center, Stanford Medicine, and the Harvard Global Health Institute. It is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded by volunteers in March 2020, that is working to help people make informed decisions by providing timely and accurate data about COVID in the U.S. Information about the initiative can be found at https://covidactnow.org/covid-risk-levels-metrics, with the status of Polk Count at https://covidactnow.org/us/iowa-ia/county/polk_county/?s=21851111.

The CovidActNow.org Risk Level is updated weekly and is available for every county and state in the country, as well as for many of the larger metropolitan areas (including Des Moines). There are five levels of risk identified as follows.

Low – Green
Moderate – Yellow
High – Orange
Very High – Red
Extreme – Dark Red

Des Moines and Polk County are currently in the High Risk or Orange category. The current data from the CovidActNow.org web site can be found [HERE] including historical graphs of several of the metrics that go into the determination of the risk level.

The LENS committee has recommended that the church stay at Level 3, but with some added precautions to acknowledge the increasing spread of the Delta variant in the community. Facial coverings are now required for all indoor meetings and gatherings.

We will continue to watch the Risk Level as published by CovidActNow.org as well as the CDC Guidelines and the response of the local and state government, and will update the guidelines as appropriate. This may include making incremental changes (such as the maximum number of people allowed in the building) or it may mean a move to a different Level. We have to remain flexible as we respond to the constantly changing conditions!

Please contact any member of the LENS committee if you have any questions or suggestions. The current membership includes Debra Rodgers, Al Powers, Andrea Lemeuse, Anne Rozeboom, Crystal Loving, Ellen Taylor, Katie Allen, Margaret Schultz, and Mike Lauer