A COVID Medical Advisory Group meeting for NGFM was held 9/13/21 to discuss policies and protocols for protecting friends/ Friends from COVID. The group was in agreement that current cases of Covid and hospitalization levels suggest that we should continue our current protocols for semi-programmed Meeting for Worship outdoors and/or by Zoom, unprogrammed Meeting for Worship outdoors or indoors, and small group meetings indoors at the Meeting House. Plans for upcoming Holiday celebrations were also discussed and will be addressed in a separate article. The next meeting of the COVID Medical Advisory Group will be October 11, so if you have any COVID questions that need to be addressed, please contact Jennifer Schaal, Kat Rice or Janie Foy so that they may be added to the agenda.

The NC Dashboard shows  a stabilizing of positive cases of Covid with a slight decrease in hospitalizations statewide.   The  NC dashboard also reports that the total vaccination rate for fully vaccinated people is now up to 51% in NC, 54% in Guilford County.

The City of Greensboro continues to mandate masks indoors at City facilities regardless of vaccination status . Governor Cooper  recommends (but ultimately leaves  up to local school boards) that masks be used in school systems K-12. School systems now have to review and reauthorize mask mandates monthly according to a new state law. The number of children diagnosed with COVID is continuing to  increase, with children accounting for 28.9% of reported cases nationwide in the first week in September (American Academy of Pediatrics).

Vaccination continues to be the best way to protect against severe COVID infection and has been proven far safer than infection with the coronavirus. The Pfizer vaccine is now fully approved by the FDA for use in those 16 and olderVaccinations are continuing to be shown effective in decreasing illness and hospitalization even in persons who get breakthrough cases of COVID after vaccination.  Masking continues to be a good option to increase safety in moderate or large groups out doors and in indoor public settings.

Vaccine options remain much the same as in the last few months. Many doctor’s offices now offer vaccines in their offices and the Cone and Guilford County web sites continue to offer information and appointments.  Cone is also now tracking the number of hospitalizations in their hospital at its website, as well as how many of their COVID patients are vaccinated.  Cone and the Guilford Health Department are requesting that appointments be made for vaccinations since the number of people being vaccinated has increased.  There continues to be an option for at-home vaccination. Caregivers, providers and individuals can schedule an at-home vaccination by calling 1-866-303-0026 or registering at www.ptrc.org/covid, which will trigger a call to schedule a vaccination.  The FDA/CDC is to meet soon to finalize plans for recommending boosters for all adults. Currently those with immunocompromising conditions are eligible for a booster dose 6 months after their last dose.

We will continue to hold semi-programmed meetings for worship on Sundays at 10 a.m. in person outdoors and simultaneously by Zoom and Facebook Live.  This remains the safest way for a large group of people, vaccinated and unvaccinated, to be together.  If bad weather threatens, semi-programmed meeting for worship will take place only virtually.  (Check the website or Facebook page for weather-related changes.)   Friends are reminded of the precautions we are recommending, including social distancing between family groups and masking when circulating around the outdoor group and in the building. We will continue to hold un-programmed meetings for worship in person outdoors on Sundays from 9 – 9:45 a.m.; these meetings are typically quite small and can move to the meeting room in the event of inclement weather.

Please see the attached document for guidance about use of other spaces in the meeting house for small group activities.

Thank you for your care and patience.

NGFM COVID Medical Advisors