11-12-2020 Letters and Commentary

A different patriotic perspective Many know how the Bible begins its narrative: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). But how does it end? “He who testifies of these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all. Amen.” (Revelation 22:20,21 NASB) Earth’s history moves towards a climax. Many of the prophecies of the last times throughout the Bible specifically address Israel as a nation. Prophecies like those in Daniel and Ezekiel and many other areas. But some passages are broader in their application, giving guidance to all nations. David’s last words, recorded in 2 Samuel 23, include some of that guidance: ‘When one rules over people in righteousness, when he rules in the fear of God, he is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings grass from the earth… But evil men are all to be cast aside like thorns, which are not gathered with the hand. Whoever touches thorns uses a tool of iron or the shaft of a spear; they are burned up where they lie.” (vv. 3b, 4, 6, 7, NIV) Then there is the guidance that explains that a nation that changes its ways for the good or for the evil can change the way they are treated by God (Jeremiah 18). Ultimately history progresses towards the Revelation conclusion – the new heavens and the new earth. It’s not God’s green solution, it is God’s total makeover of creation with Jesus Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. God’s Word is true. In Acts 17 we read how God has set up nations in terms of duration, power, and physical extent – totally according to His will. True patriotism seeks to understand our place in history, and acknowledges the Master of it all.

COVID-19 contact tracing With COVID-19 cases rapidly increasing across Berrien County and surrounding regions, the Berrien County Health Department is making shifts in case investigation and contact tracing processes to meet the increased demand and make the best use of existing resources. Because of the continuing increases in number of COVID-19 cases, there have been delays in the amount of time it takes to contact all persons who test positive for the virus as well as all those who have been in close contact to someone who has COVID-19. Residents are urged not to wait for the Health Department to call, but to take personal responsibility and action if someone becomes aware of a positive test result or potential exposure to COVID-19. In order to maximize staffing resources and prevent outbreaks amongst vulnerable individuals, the Berrien County Health Department will begin prioritizing case investigation to notify those who are: Age 65 and older, especially those with chronic underlying conditions; children who are 18 years old and younger, especially those attending school in-person; individuals residing in congregate living environments, such as long-term care facilities; all other individuals who test positive will be contacted as capacity allows. If you receive a positive COVID-19 test result, isolate for a minimum of 10 days from the start of your symptoms or your positive test date if you didn’t have symptoms. Notify your close contacts that they may have been exposed to you 48 hours prior to when symptoms started and encourage them to quarantine and consider getting tested. If someone is awaiting test results, they must stay home until the results are in. A close contact is someone who has been within six feet (about two arms’ length) of an infected person for at least 15 minutes in 24 hours including brief encounters (it does not need to be consecutive minutes) with or without a face covering. Close contacts should quarantine—generally 14 days from the last exposure—since a person can be infectious up to 48 hours before showing any symptoms. Isolation and quarantine mean staying home from work, school, social gatherings, extracurricular activities and any other public place other than when seeking medical care. The Health Department will continue to conduct case investigation and contact tracing in nursing homes, schools, priority clusters identified in high-risk congregate settings and assist businesses with COVID-19 related issues and positive employees. More information about isolation, quarantine, testing for COVID-19 and more can be found at www.bchdmi.org.

Kim’s Coat Drive for Kids a success despite challenges October has come and gone, and the second annual Kim’s Coat Drive for Kids is in the books. Like everything else in 2020, this year’s coat drive was different and not without its challenges. But, thanks to the determination and generosity of Southwest Michigan residents, we collected over 50 coats for area youth in need. As before, I have partnered with area school leaders to help distribute the coats. This year my staff and I worked with Niles Community Schools, and I appreciate the support of Superintendent Dan Applegate, Ph.D., who joined in our efforts. As winter quickly approaches it is heartening to know that, because of the caring individuals who participated in the coat drive, these child