The COVID plans for New Garden Friends Meeting will remain the same this week in accordance with current policies and protocols for protecting friends/Friends from COVID.  Specifically we will continue semi-programmed MFW outdoors and/or by Zoom and Facebook live, un-programmed MFW outdoors or indoors and small group meetings indoors at the Meeting House, in accordance with current masking and distancing protocols. Our next meeting of the Covid Medical Advisory Group will be held October 11, 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 this morning  a fairly stable number of cases and hospitalizations for COVID. There is a nice web site reporting only information for Guilford County(Guilford County Covid Hub), from which I updated statistics for today. It has been tracking new cases per 100,000 people in Guilford County. The last day reported (9/24/21) shows 630 new COVID  cases per 100,000 people(in the last 14 days), down from a maximum of 710 reported for 9/20/21. As a  comparison, the rate was 260 on 8/1/21. The percent positive tests was 8.9% averaged over the last 14 days but a recent single day showed 11.2%  positive tests. Guilford County hospitalizations are slightly up to 142 as of yesterday with a maximum of 171 during the current wave of COVID cases. This site reports the Guilford County total population fully vaccinated rate at 50.8 % (a little less than the NC dashboard rate listed as 53%). Statewide, 29% of hospitalized persons (3,012 as of 9/26) are in ICU beds. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that as of 9/23/21 children represented 26.7% of total cases( an 8% increase in the last 2 weeks) nationwide and 2-4% of hospitalizations.

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 and recently the FDA has authorized the use of a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine for individuals who are immunocompromised or greater than 65 years of age. Pfizer now has presented data  to the FDA in support of authorizing vaccinations for children in the 5-11 age group, though they have not yet requested emergency use authorization.  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.

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, and in some doctors’ offices and pharmacies.