We had several cases of COVID at the 7-day sesshin that ended on Saturday and thought it would be helpful for the Sangha to know how it was handled and what we’re planning, going forward.
We began sesshin with everyone having tested negative, and we stayed masked when in motion and while chanting for the first two days. On Thursday, we tested everyone who was showing symptoms of infection and discovered two people who were COVID positive. They were isolated, and after making sure that everyone else tested negative, we resumed masking and continued testing anyone with any cold symptoms. One more person (who had been in the same car going out to sesshin as our first two cases) tested positive on Saturday morning, the last day of sesshin, and drove home with his wife. Finally, on the Sunday after sesshin, Roshi tested positive while traveling home.
We’re not aware of any other cases, and the four people who did come down with COVID are all recovering well. Our COVID task force attempts to balance the risks of infection with the need many of us feel to resume intense practice together. Since the introduction of vaccines and anti-viral medications and the evolution of the predominant strains of COVID to those that are less severe, contracting the virus is far less dangerous than it was when the pandemic began. Everyone needs to decide what level of risk they’re willing to tolerate, and those who do participate in person are free of course to mask up at any time.
For the record, a study from the Washington State Department of Health showed a hospitalization rate of 1 in 1,000 in February 2023 for those in Washington State over 65 who had received at least one booster shot. If you’ve had the bivalent booster, your risk of catching the now-prevalent BQ and XBB variants is reduced by an additional 50 percent.
We will reevaluate our sesshin protocols closer to the June 7-day sesshin date, as we expect summer sesshins will be lower risk.
Era of Free COVID-19 Test Kits Ending Soon
Starting in May, many with job-based insurance will have to start paying out-of-pocket for rapid antigen test kits. So now is the time to order free COVID tests. Sangha is invited to donate any excess kits to the Center.
Teisho by John-sensei, Sunday, April 9
We’ll have one extended round of sitting with a bell at the half-way point for a posture change, followed by kinhin, a short chanting service, and then John-sensei’s teisho. All will be broadcast on Zoom.
There’s Still Time To Help
The columbarium task force is very interested in your thoughts and feelings about this project that is planned for Chapin Mill. Read more about it by taking the survey as soon as possible. The survey will close on April 9.