‘A dangerous environment’: As churches reopen, coronavirus outbreaks are sprouting and some are keeping doors shut
At a church in Sacramento, California, that has been closed for in-person services since March, congregants occasionally still stop by to pray outside and try to capture a sense of fellowship they dearly miss.
In Nashville, Tennessee, the pastor of an Anglican church has been handing out Communion in the parking lot for weeks.
South of Atlanta, the animated pastor of a 3,000-member congregation tries to summon every ounce of enthusiasm in his body to deliver a lively, music-filled service in front of a live audience of no one, hoping his message and spirit come through on various technology platforms.
None of those are ideal options, but they beat becoming the source of an outbreak of COVID-19.
Almost 40 places of worship and religious events have been linked to more than 650 U.S. cases of the coronavirus since the pandemic began, according to tracking by the New York Times. Along with the nationwide surge in infections that has followed the loosening of restrictions aimed at combating the virus, outbreaks connected to churches have sprouted at several spots.
9:00 a.m. As COVID-19 cases surge, election officials scramble to find poll workers
Governments across the country are scrambling to find people to staff polling places for the presidential election this fall as the coronavirus sows doubt about how safe it will be to cast a ballot in person and thins out an already scarce pool of workers.
Recruitment efforts are increasingly targeting younger people, who are less at risk of developing serious illness from the virus, as officials and advocates aim strategies toward professional associations, students and sports teams to make sure election sites stay open. Still, a big unknown remains.
“Everything having to do with this election will be determined by where we are with the virus, and obviously, indicators are not very encouraging,” said Neil Albrecht, former executive director of the Milwaukee election commission, which had worker shortages and was forced to shutter all but five of the city’s 180 polling places earlier this year.
Experts say finding enough poll workers is always difficult, even when there isn’t a pandemic killing thousands of people, forcing widespread shutdowns and spawning a series of evolving safety rules. Normally, long hours, low pay and lots of stress might keep folks away. Now add face shields, protective barriers and fears of getting sick.
More than two-thirds of poll workers are over age 61, putting them at higher risk of the COVID-19 disease. Scores of workers dropped out during this year’s primary season, taking with them decades of experience as the pandemic stifled efforts to train replacements.
7:15 a.m. Next year’s Cubs Convention canceled due to coronavirus-related uncertainty
The 2021 Cubs Convention is kaput, the latest event to be canceled because of the coronavirus.
It was to be held Jan. 15-17 at the Sheraton Grand Chicago. Those dates get wiped away like so many others throughout the sports world have been.
“Pain and torture,” Cubs vice president of communications Julian Green said.
That was a reference to the one-thing-after-another experience lately of being a fan who can’t go to a game at Wrigley Field, can’t look forward to convention tickets going on sale in August, can’t enjoy their team as usual.
7 a.m. Stimulus checks for kids? Country Time launches bailout fund for lemonade stands closed due to COVID-19
Here’s another “business” struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic: kids’ lemonade stands.
According to lemonade brand Country Time, the popular summertime fixtures in neighborhoods across the nation are closed “due to social distancing guidelines.”
So, Country Time has launched the “Littlest Bailout Relief Fund” to help put a “little juice back into the economy.”
The brand owned by Kraft Heinz announced in a news release that it will send stimulus checks to kids who can’t operate their lemonade stands this summer.
Analysis & Commentary
6:45 a.m. Growing my own food in the times of COVID
The garden hoe, hoe, hoe . . .
Raspberries in the time of COVID.
Sprouting from the sun belt in my backyard garden, a five-foot tall patch of blood-red raspberries was proof I’d dug a safe anti-virus haven for myself.
But as the purple irises, pink climbing roses and Virginia bluebells gave way to pastel pink astilbes, buzzing bee balm and God knows whatever else I obsessively tossed into my crazy lady backyard, the call of the wild whispered in my ear.
It spit: “Forget the flowers, toots!”
It asked: “What about the climbing cucumber, acidic home-grown tomato, slender green bean and splendid baby zucchini?”
It advised: “Get a grip! Grow what you eat!”