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 (very small numbers of masked attendees) 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 a nice decline in cases of COVID (down about 70% since early September) and hospitalizations (down by about 30% since early September).  Statewide, 27% of hospitalized persons are in ICU beds. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that as of 9/30/21 children again represented 26.7% of total cases nationwide and 2-4% of hospitalizations. The NC  total population, fully vaccinated rate is stable at 53%. Nationwide the fully vaccinated rate of children ages 12-17 is 45%.

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 At least one NC county school board has now rescinded a mask mandate that was  previously in place.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 vaccination for this age group will be recommended.  The FDA is considering a booster dose for adults who received the initial series of  Moderna vaccines, and CDC recommendations on this are expected in the next few weeks.  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, in pharmacies  and in some doctors’ offices.