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COVID-19 pandemic a year later — patience and perseverance

It’s been a long haul, but stay patient, encouraging and connected

A COVID-19 prayer card from the U.S. Catholic bishops appeals to the Holy Virgin of Guadalupe to intercede for us with her Son. The prayer makes a significant request: “In this time of trial and testing, teach all of us in the Church to love one another and to be patient and kind. Help us to bring the peace of Jesus to our land and to our hearts.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues after a year of restrictions, it might be hard to be patient and kind. We’ve been stuck inside and miss many of our enjoyable activities while often facing the same daily routines. Hopefully, we’ve remained connected to our parishes, either by attending socially distanced Masses and programs or through virtual means. But it’s tough. Prayer and perseverance prevail, however.

New hospital admissions due to COVID-19 in the St. Louis area have trended downward since peaking in late November, and are down to levels last seen in early October of last year. On Feb. 18, the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force reported that 39 new COVID-19 patients were admitted to St. Louis area hospitals, making the seven-day daily average 42. In late November, the average was at 140. The disease remains deadly, however. As recently as Feb. 17, the weekly average of deaths was 44.1 in Missouri for a total of 7,470 statewide.

While the number of COVID-19 patients in St. Louis area hospitals continues to decline, the task force is concerned about the possibility of another wave fueled by new strains of the virus. Residents are encouraged to sign up for vaccine alerts and to stay patient while continuing to wear face masks, washing your hands and staying socially distanced.

A survey of immunologists, infectious-disease researchers and virologists working on the coronavirus, published in the journal Nature, predicts that the future will depend heavily on the type of immunity people acquire through infection or vaccination and how the virus evolves.

As reported by Catholic News Service, it’s expected that people who’ve stayed away from their parishes will return gradually. Some people still may be afraid. Others may be distracted by other things or hesitate just because they’ve lost touch. It’s encouraging though that many parishes in the archdiocese have reached out via phone calls and other means to their parishioners. We must continue to do that and establish plans to welcome everyone.

“You’ve got to do the personal touch. You’ve got to start encouraging people,” said Dominican Sister Teresa Rickard, president and executive director of Renew International. “Soon, more people will be coming to Mass. And you’ve got to be making your case why you should be going to Mass.”

We’ve become adept at streaming Masses and virtual programs, which should continue in the future. Let’s remain patient, keep connected and plan ahead for a time when the Body of Christ can be together physically, in addition to spiritually.

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