Help yourself, and others in community

Pastors and Faith Community Leaders,

We come to you this day with hope in our hearts for a happy and blessed new year for all. Yet the challenges and threats to our community have carried over into 2022.

We are all weary of COVID-19 and the mitigation efforts that continue to be necessary, but necessary if not required they remain. You have seen the daily news reports that the Omicron variant is striking at alarming rates. In Ohio, new infections as of January 2 have increased by 17,402 — a 90% rise, with hospitalizations up 15% and COVID deaths 11%.

In Clinton County our infection rate has risen 62% in just two weeks with an 18% increase in hospitalizations. Through the work of our devoted Health District staff and area, 45% of our county’s residents are now fully vaccinated, but that leaves over 23,000 of our neighbors who are unprotected, the most vulnerable segment of our population.

Yet, we are all at risk from this viral variant that in less than three weeks became the dominate strain in the entire United States. Further, the infection rates continue to rise and are not anticipated to fall until we rally together to mitigate the risks and continue to vaccinate. If you are fully vaccinated and eligible for a booster dose, we strongly encourage you to receive this dose for optimal protection.

We are calling on all people of faith in Clinton County to come together as followers of the God who comes to us with compassion and sacrificial love. Our mutual calling from the Lord is to love and care for one another as we have been loved.

We believe that sacred mandate applies to all aspects of our life together in community. Specifically, we are asking for you to continue or begin practicing every mitigation effort which is available (masking, social distancing, and hand sanitizing) to help us minimize infections in our county.

Further, we ask that you prayerfully consider vaccination and encouraging others to vaccinate but always with grace and humility that we might join the Gentle Healer who always comes to us in mercy. We are grateful for each of you.

Pam Walker-Bauer, Clinton County Health Commissioner

Rev. Dr. Tom Stephenson, Pastor, First Christian Church