The COVID  Advisory Group met 10/11/21 and protocols for New Garden Friends Meeting will remain the same for the next month. 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 meeting indoors at the Meeting House may take place by reservation (email: office@ngfm.org).

Our next meeting of the COVID Medical Advisory Group will be held 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 a nice decline in cases of COVID (down about 85% since early September) and hospitalizations (down by about 60% since early September).  Statewide, 27% of hospitalized persons are still in ICU beds. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that as of 10/7//21 children  represented 24.8% of total cases nationwide and 2-4% of hospitalizations.  The CDC announced this week  that it has seen a 12% increase of MIS-C ( the serious complication of COVID in children also called multi system inflammatory syndrome) since late August. The fully vaccinated rate  for the NC total population is slightly up at 54%(as of 10/7/21). Nationwide the fully vaccinated rate of children ages 12-17 is 46%.

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. At least one NC county school board has now rescinded a mask mandate that was  previously in place.

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, who work in high-risk settings, and who live in high-risk settings.  Pfizer now has presented data to the FDA in support of authorizing vaccinations for children in the 5-11 age group, though  we still don’t know when/how vaccination for this age group will be recommended or implemented in our community.  The FDA is considering a booster dose for adults who received the initial series of  Moderna vaccines, and  J& J is also planning to ask CDC  to allow for boosters. Recommendations on this are expected in the next few weeks.  A new treatment for newly diagnosed COVID cases is also being considered  by the FDA for approval  and to be available in tablet form. 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.

Vaccine options 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), at community vaccination clinics, in home for those who are unable to attend a vaccination site, in pharmacies  and in some doctors’ offices. The Greensboro Coliseum site will  reopen for several Saturdays in October to administer booster doses and possibly doses for children, appointments requested with a limited number of walk ins , scheduled through the Cone or Healthy Guilford web sites