The COVID  Advisory Group last  met 11/8/21, and protocols for New Garden Friends Meeting  will continue mostly the same through the Holiday season. Specifically, we will continue semi-programmed Meeting for Worship (MFW) outdoors and/or by Zoom and Facebook Live, now back to 11 am.   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]).   We did as a group discuss and approve outdoor singing at MFW with appropriate distancing and continuation of masking . Our next meeting of the COVID Medical Advisory Group will be December 6, 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 85-90% since the Delta peak) and hospitalizations (down by about 55% in the last month).  The Covid test positive rate was 5.1% this week in NC(Guilford county was 3.8%). Statewide, however 30 % of persons  hospitalized with COVID are  in ICU beds. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that as of  11/4//21 children represented 24% 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 stable this week at 56%. Nationwide the fully vaccinated rate of children ages 12-17  is reported to be stable at 49%.

The City of Greensboro continues to mandate masks indoors at city facilities regardless of vaccination status, however the Guilford County Board of Commissioners will meet November 15 to discuss possible changes. School districts continue to decide monthly whether to continue mask mandates.

Vaccination continues to be the best way to protect against COVID infections.  For those who completed the initial series of Pfizer-BioNTech  and Moderna 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.  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.  Persons are also now allowed to get booster doses of a different vaccine than initially given. As of this week vaccinations for children ages 5-11 are now approved by both the FDA and CDC and are starting to be given at various community clinics and at some pediatrician offices.

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  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 !