Covid Update (1/5/22)

Wednesday, January 5th, 2022

Logo for the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania

"For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39


My siblings in Christ,

In response to the current Omicron surge, many churches have taken steps to limit in-person activity. I continue to empower church leadership to take what steps they deem necessary to protect their people. In addition to all of our previously published guidance I urge you to consider the following:

  1.  As I wrote last week, in response to the Omicron variant, medical experts are now recommending the use of N95 and KN95 masks. Such masks are readily available in stores and online. Some experts also recommend double masking.
  2.  All churches should suspend the social use of food and beverages through January and, depending on numbers, into February. This does not apply to feeding ministries. It is highly recommended, however, that any seated meal ministries be suspended through February.
  3. Meetings or events that can be held virtually should be moved online for January and, depending on the numbers, also into February. 
  4. Churches should have contingency plans for worship that include going virtual or offering lay led Morning Prayer. If you need help in developing such plans or have any other questions please contact Canons Shawn Wamsley at or Kirk Berlenbach at  A Morning Prayer service booklet that goes through the season of Epiphany can be found here.  
  5. To this end, the Offices of the Diocese will be moving to more remote model through January and all diocesan meetings will be held virtually. The Offices will be open each day in order to serve you as usual, but with a very limited number of staff present onsite. As throughout the pandemic, this will not impact our commitment to responding to all calls and emails promptly.

For the clergy: I am issuing a pastoral directive. If a clergy person has tested positive and they do not have another clergy person or lay leader to lead their worship services for the week, then the church should go virtual for that week or they should direct their people to another Episcopal church service.  After that, they should follow the CDC’s guidance as to when they can return to public activity. If your symptoms persist and you are unable to safely return to public activity, please contact the Offices of the Diocese for assistance. 

Testing: I am aware that at-home tests are increasingly hard to find and that PCR tests are taking longer both to schedule and produce results. As part of our commitment to support you, we have been able to procure a small number of at-home test kits through a partnership we developed with a pharmacy.

Due to high demand, we can only make these kits available to clergy (or the primary lay worship leader of a church without regular clergy) and essential outreach workers. If you fall into one of those categories and:

  1. Have been in close contact with someone who tested positive or have symptoms of COVID
  2. And, have not been able to get tested (including both at home as well as at a clinic or medical office) please contact the Rev. Canon Toneh Smyth at to see if any test kits are available. 


If you are exposed or test positive: Because exposure and positive tests are increasingly common, even among fully vaccinated and boosted individuals, it is important for you to know what to do. The CDC has offered detailed guidance for what to do in the event of exposure to someone who has COVID and what to do if you test positive. What follows is a brief overview of their guidance.

If you have been exposed via close contact (being 6 feet or less away from the person for a total of 15 minutes in a 24-hour period) with a COVID positive person you should:

  • Quarantine at home for 5 days and wear a mask around others. 
  • If you develop symptoms, get tested as soon as possible.
  • If you remain asymptomatic, test after 5 days. If you are negative, you may leave your home but should continue to wear a mask until 10 days after your exposure. 
  • If you are an adult who is fully vaccinated and boosted, a child (5-17) who is fully vaccinated or if you have had a confirmed case of COVID in the last 90 days, and you are asymptomatic, you do not need to quarantine but should wear a mask for 10 days and get tested at least 5 days after the exposure. 


If you have tested positive, you should:

  • Isolate in a specific “sick room” at home, avoiding contact with others and wearing a mask if you must be around them, for at least 5 days.
  • If you have no symptoms, or if you are fever free and your other symptoms are improving, you may end your isolation and leave your home. 
  • Continue to wear a mask in public until 10 days after your positive test.
  • The above also applies to those who are showing symptoms of COVID until such time as they can get tested. 

Please also note that the CDC’s guidance is subject to changes as they have already updated their recent guidance once this past week. Further, I know that there is some public disagreement among experts around the new CDC guidance. If you are concerned as to what to do please contact your healthcare provider. 

Over the past 22 months, we have accomplished incredible things together. And that holy work continues even now. For so long as we are bound together by the love of Jesus Christ, nothing can overcome us. 

I am blessed to be your bishop.

Bishop Signature Updated 2021

The Rt. Reverend Daniel G. P. Gutiérrez

XVI Bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania