Chaplains on the Harbor will remain in operation through the COVID-19 outbreak, with the following changes:
-We have suspended worship services in Westport for the next two weeks.
-We will serve our Sunday dinners in Aberdeen as to-go meals only, to avoid gathering large groups of people.
-We are suspending visits to hospitals and jails unless in case of dire emergency to avoid spread of the disease. We will write regularly to jail instead.
-We are suspending all transport of people to hospitals, something we usually do regularly.
-We will continue to meet in our office for necessary work. All employees will be screened for the three main symptoms (cough, difficulty breathing, and fever) before coming to work and asked to stay home if they are sick. We provide sick leave and will extend that as necessary. Employees have the options to self quarantine or to stay home to care for children as schools and daycares close and use sick leave for that purpose.
-We will continue to keep our Westport community center open during the daytime and for this weekend’s cold weather to continue providing food and hygiene– both of which are necessary for immune health. We are taking as many precautions as possible. We ask everyone to wash hands frequently and we will work to insure people are spaced and surfaces are frequently disinfected. We may put additional safeguards in place shortly.
We are remaining in contact with Episcopal Relief and Development, local healthcare workers, and others as we strategize and share best practices for continuing to promote the survival and dignity of all people– particularly those most vulnerable.
We live, every day, pillar to post between disaster and survival. Every day, our people face death from lack of medical care, infection, overdose, infectious disease, suicide, and violence. Every day, our staff risk exposure and do what they can to mitigate risk. In some ways, this virus is just another thing to worry about in a long list of hurdles to survival. Like the market crash of 2008, when those of us in Grays Harbor were already living in the middle of economic devastation, this viral outbreak is making its way to an already suffering community.
The first confirmed case has reached us and it is clear that there will be many more. We are especially concerned about people who are already vulnerable, living outside in the cold during this season. We may also be more prepared than others, having been required to navigate so many crises and impossible choices each day in our work for several years now.
We have seen death before and stared it down in the face. We have watched loved ones die over and over. We have learned how to take care of each other, in small ways. We have learned to sterilize after lice outbreaks and how to love each other through illness and death. We will continue to learn how to stand in the gap with this epidemic, between the world as it is and the world that God wants– where all people have the means of life and dignity.
Chaplains on the Harbor