Today, The Rt. Rev. Jennifer A. Reddall, Bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Arizona, released the following message:
We promised when we published the Gathering for Abundant Life guidelines that we would update them as we received new information and learned more about COVID-19. In that spirit, with greater understanding around how being outside can help mitigate the change of contracting COVID-19, we have the following update to offer for our congregations today:
Outdoor worship services for 50 people or less can begin when:
- Your congregation has a diocesan-approved Phase II plan and agree to follow all your Phase II procedures (masks, distancing, etc.) for outdoor worship.
- Hospital capacity decreases so that there is 30% capacity in inpatient beds (i.e., 70-% of beds are full). Currently there is 19% capacity in inpatient beds; we will notify the diocese when the threshold is reached. You can look up these statistics at www.azdhs.gov.
For indoor services, we will still plan to enter Phase II county by county looking for a decline in both case counts and per capita rates, along with the other measures recommended by the CDC. Due to the current high rates of infection, it is possible that there will be a two week decline in infection rates in a particular county, but that we will still not be prepared to enter Phase II. The task force is working on establishing fair and consistent measures, and will notify all congregations by county once there is a sufficient decline to indicate that it is safe to gather indoors.