11/13/2020 COVID-19 PNC Update

This will likely be a note that will only interest a few of you. I’ve had several people ask what sources of information I use to try and figure out what suggestions to pass on to all of you. If you’re one of those folks that wondered this, too, this email is for you.

In the early weeks of the pandemic, I, like many folks, was doomscrolling through news feeds and social media trying to get some sort of handle on what was happening and how we all might protect ourselves. Although that was helpful in the short term, it wasn’t a sustainable use of my time and lousy for my sense of perspective, so I’ve developed a pattern of what I check and how often. 

There are four sites I take a look at every day. It usually takes me about a half-hour:

  • For a quick overlook (with the volume turned down because the music is too foreboding), I watch John Hopkins Data in Motion video: Data In Motion.
  • For the newest studies, I browse through the Journal of the American Medical Associations COVID-19 page. I don’t read everything; only those things that might seem relevant to church life.
  • I subscribe to the UW Alliance for Pandemic Preparedness daily email and browse through that, too. Again, I focus on those things that might seem relevant.
  • This next one, I check like the weather report. I like how the data is shown and shared on the New York Times COVID charts and graphs, and I browse the county per capita rates (Washington State, Idaho, Alaska). 
    • I’ve come to look more at the per capita rates to get a local perspective because, of course, King County is likely to have more cases because there are more people here. I look at the per capita rates because it talks more about the virus’s prevalence and, therefore, the current risk. 
      • For example, today, King County has the highest average daily number of people testing positive in the state (based on the last seven days) at 443.6 people. Garfield County has had one of the lowest numbers of people testing positive at 1.9.
      • However, King County has close to 2.3 million people, and 2247 people live in Garfield County. When you factor in population differences and look at the per capita rates, this means that the chance of being in contact with an infected person is a little more than four times higher in Garfield County (with 83.5 per 100,000) than in King County (with 19.7 per 100,000).

There are a few other information sources I take a look at about once a week:

  • Every state government that our conference touches has a decent website that usually gives COVID demographic information for the state that focuses on age, gender, and ethnicity.
  • I check Governor Inslee’s Twitter feed (@GovInslee) every Thursday evening or Friday morning to see what he talked about in his weekly press conference. So far, almost every time he’s said they might have to increase restrictions or might be able to decrease restrictions in this press conference, those actions are announced the next week. As we’ve learned over the last year, pandemics aren’t just a medical crisis. They’re a political crisis, too.
  • Once a week, I do an internet search using one name: Fauci. Dr. Anthony Fauci has been a consistent, sane, and reasonable voice this year. He reminds me of my doctor in his approach. He teaches about the problem, suggests a treatment, and names potential outcomes. Even though some of the more specific suggestions have changed over time (as they should when new information becomes available), his longer-term view of how this will unfold has always been right.

Again, these are the sources for COVID information I use. There are several good ones out there.

Our conference’s goal from the beginning has been to try and do what we can to help give you the tools, support, and information you need so that no one gets sick through our churches and so that, together, we can serve God and God’s people in new ways. Through what your church gives to Our Churches Wider Mission (OCWM), increased individual giving to the conference, and your participation in unique campaigns such as “Camp Changes Lives,” we’re doing something meaningful together, friends. There will be more opportunities to participate in similar ways over the coming weeks. 

The coming days will be hard ones, but I am convinced that we will be amazed at how we answered God’s call when we look back on these days in the future.

With hope,


Rev. Mike Denton, Conference Minister of The ​Pacific Northwest Conference of The United Church of Christ

You can give to the ministries of the Pacific Northwest Conference by going to www.pncucc.org and clicking on the “Donate” button​.

​Follow me on Twitter @denton_rev