The COVID  Advisory Group last met 10/11/21, and protocols for New Garden Friends Meeting continue the same at least until the next advisory Group meeting. Specifically, we will continue semi-programmed Meeting for Worship (MFW) outdoors and/or by Zoom and Facebook Live.   Friends will be notified if weather does not permit in-person outdoor worship.  Unprogrammed MFW may take place outdoors or indoors, in accordance with current masking and distancing protocols.  Other small group meetings indoors at the Meeting House may take place by reservation (email: [email protected]).  Our next meeting of the COVID Medical Advisory Group will be November 8, 2021 so if you have any COVID questions or concerns that you would like addressed please contact Janie Foy, Jennifer Schaal, or Kat Rice prior to that meeting.

The NC Dashboard managed by the NC department of Health shows the continuation of lower case numbers of COVID  this week (down about 90% in the last month) and hospitalizations (down by about 60% in the last month).  The Covid test positive rate was 5% this week in NC. Statewide, however 30 % of persons  hospitalized with COVID are now  in ICU beds. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that as of 10/28 //21 children represented 24.2% of total cases nationwide and 2-4% of hospitalizations.  Although the number of hospitalized cases of children with COVID is low, COVID is now  one of the top ten causes of death of children in the US.

The NC total population, fully vaccinated rate, is slightly up  this week at 56%. Nationwide the fully vaccinated rate of children ages 12-17  is reported to be 49%.

The City of Greensboro continues to mandate masks indoors at city facilities regardless of vaccination status. Governor Cooper has been recommending continuation of mask use in schools, but each local school board is deciding now on a monthly basis whether to continue these requirements, due to a new state law requiring this.

Vaccination continues to be the best way to protect against COVID infections.  For those who completed the initial series of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines at least 6 months ago, the CDC now recommends a booster shot for people 65 years and older and for people 18 years and older who live in long-term care settings, who have underlying medical conditions (including mental health conditions ), who work in high-risk settings, and who live in high-risk settings.   An FDA panel was in agreement with booster doses for the other vaccines being used in the USA and the CDC has now agreed . Boosters are now recommended  for adults who received the initial series of  Moderna vaccine after an interval of at least 6 months; targeted groups will be the same as those who have been recommended to receive the Pfizer booster.  All persons  age 18 and above who initially received the J&J vaccine are recommended to get a booster after an interval of at least 60 days since the first vaccine.  A timeline of events leading to the approval for use of Covid vaccine in children  5-11 has the CDC meeting today to act on the recommendations of the FDA and other reviewing organizations. It is anticipated that vaccines for children ages 5-11 will be approved and available in the next week.  Vaccinations are continuing to be shown effective in decreasing illness and hospitalization in persons who are getting breakthrough cases of COVID after vaccination. Masking continues to be a good option to increase safety in moderate or large groups outdoors and in indoor public settings. Given the continuation of high spread of COVID in our county, be sure to be tested if you have had a significant exposure or develop COVID symptoms. Those with conditions weakening their immune systems are encouraged not to relax their vigilance in avoiding infections, even if vaccinated.

Vaccine options for initial vaccine or for boosters remain much the same as in the last few months. They are still available through the Cone and Healthy Guilford web sites (they are requesting appointments be made but a few walk-in appointments are available), at community vaccination clinics(including  a few  Saturday and Sundays at the Greensboro Coliseum), in home for those who are unable to attend a vaccination site, in pharmacies and in some doctors’ offices.

Don’t forget to also obtain your Flu shot !