The dioceses of Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana are all either recommending or mandating masks for indoor gatherings regardless of vaccination status. The latest guidance is on either the diocese’s main page, or, in the case of Louisiana, under resources/covid. In Louisiana, the governor has reinstated a mask mandate.
The latest news on Covid-19 in each state:
- Alabama approaching all-time high for COVID hospitalizations
- Louisiana is Almost Out of ICU Beds in 4th COVID Wave
Statements are edited for length.
By now you have heard Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has reinstated a statewide indoor mask mandate. It has been imposed due to the rapidly rising COVID cases across the state. I appreciate the governor making this decision.
Beginning Sunday, August 8, 2021, the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana will follow the statewide mandate to wear masks indoors. This means that while anyone is indoors of a church, masks will be worn. This includes all worship services, prayer services, and any type of Bible or group gatherings.
I have heard and read where some individuals have raised their objections to wearing masks indoors. This is disheartening. The primary reason for wearing masks is to protect others. Choosing not to wear masks speaks to the absence of love for our neighbor. Let us have love for one another as Jesus taught us.
… in compliance with the newest CDC guidelines, when we gather inside our buildings in groups where both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons are present, please ask everyone to wear a mask, until their county is not at substantial or high risk for infection (Alabama Department of Public Health website lists risk levels).
At the same time, all vaccinated persons who are immunocompromised or have a known exposure to active COVID should wear a mask, if they choose to attend during this phase of increased infections, regardless of the group size. Anyone who is sick should stay home until they are well, quarantining according to CDC and ADPH guidelines.
I see no reason to modify practices around communion at this point. [Guidance on communion in the diocese is here.]
Finally, I have great confidence in your individual and collective judgement. Each parish is different and there’s no cause for panic. We are working through an unprecedented pandemic, and this is just another phase in the process toward healing.