COVID-19 has changed almost every aspect of the world. It has changed how we work, play and worship. COVID-19 has impacted everyone, at least those who have enough sense to realize COVID’s danger — at an almost granular level. We don’t hug how we used to hug. We don’t shake hands anymore — and it’s difficult to read faces with masks on. We have been living with COVID-19 since March in Middle Georgia. We were hit squarely in the face by news from Albany, Georgia, in Dougherty County, when the community of 75,000 had the fourth highest COVID-19 infectious rate in the world. The county was a super spreader area tied to funerals held in late February and early March. At Fellowship Bible Baptist Church, we halted in person services in mid-March and six months later, COVID is still knocking on our doors.
The United States Census Bureau released a few statistics from its Household Pulse Survey taken between July 9-14 and its results reveal the stresses everyone is encountering.
• 51.1% of American adults live in households which have experienced a loss in employment income.
• 35.2% of American adults expect to experience a loss in employment income.
• 12.1% of Americans lived in households where there was either sometimes or often not enough to eat in the previous seven days.
• 40.1% of adults had delayed getting medical care in the previous four weeks.
• 26.2% of respondents reported having little interest or pleasure in doing things more than half the days/nearly every day last week.
• 24.8% of respondents reported feeling down more than half the days/nearly every day last week.
• 33.9% of respondents reported feeling anxious or nervous more than half the days/nearly every day last week.
• On average, households spent $211.34 a week to buy food at supermarkets, grocery stores, online, and other places to be prepared and eaten at home.
• 26.5% of adults either missed last month’s rent or mortgage payment or had slight or no confidence that their household could make the next payment on time.
Let’s break those statistics down to what those numbers mean to us. Roughly 51 percent of our neighbors and church members have lost income and 35 percent expect to lose income. The recent impasse in Congress overextending unemployment meant that on Friday, July 31, families who depended on those benefits, lost them. If the same survey were held today, the numbers would be much higher for those who lost income or expected to lose income. And some members of Congress insulted hard working Americans by saying the $600 a week unemployment benefit was a disincentive to those Americans who were working and paying their bills to go back to work. In doing so they exposed the disparity in the workplace and brought to light that many people — though working hard every day — are not making a living wage.
Many parents had to make difficult decisions this month that could very well involve life and death. Area schools opened in August with the exception of Bibb County which is scheduled to open virtually after Labor Day. While most systems had virtual options for children’s education rather than face-to-face education, in Houston County the school system reported 77 percent of its parents (21,675 students) planned to send their children to face-to-face classes; 15.4 percent (4,335 students) opted for digital instruction; and 38.7 percent (10,894 students) planned to have their children ride a school bus. In Bibb County, 7,500 students signed up for digital-only instruction, that’s a third of the system’s students. The choice for parents was grim: put food on the table by going to work or stay home to help educate your children. How do you educate a kindergartener virtually without assistance? Within a week of opening schools in Houston County five high schools, three middle schools and five elementary schools had at least one case of COVID-19.
Adding to the conundrum, many Middle Georgia families are multigenerational. Children are natural petri dishes when it comes to transmitting bugs of all kinds, not just COVID. While it seems younger people can survive a boxing match with COVID, the same can’t be said for older family members who may also have other conditions that make them more vulnerable to the virus. Not to mention the teachers and staff who are also at risk, and could spread the virus to other family members, staff and students. Bibb, Houston, Monroe and Peach counties have lost 226 people to COVID as of August 26. In the last week of July, Houston Medical Center’s emergency room, intensive care, critical care and medical surgery units were at “saturation.”
It is imperative that members of Fellowship Bible Baptist Church and all others, follow the procedures and protocols to keep COVID at bay: Wash your hands, wear a mask when out in public and continue to social distance. There are those who believe COVID is a hoax. There are those who don’t take COVID seriously. And there are those who miss the social interaction at work, school and church. We should all remember the opening sentence of Hosea 4:6: “My people are destroyed for lack of
Written by Charles E. Richardson