Friends, Families and Supporters: 
  
Happy Friday—I hope you are all well and staying healthy. I bring you some important updates today. 
  
First, we are continuing to research potential changes to our protocols, with focus on preparing for upcoming holidays as well as colder weather. We are engaging our Medical Advisory Panel, as well as local health professionals, infectious disease experts and State and local government jurisdictions. We will leave no stone unturned in our research so that our approach is vetted and informed. I expect we will complete our work by this time next week and will announce updates to our community at that time. Until then, our current visitor protocols remain in place. 

Currently, Montgomery County remains in Phase 2 of re-opening. The county is at a different stage of re-opening than the rest of Maryland. This is an essential distinction for JFGH. In Virginia, Fairfax and Loudoun Counties are at Stage 3 of re-opening, consistent with the rest of the Commonwealth. For JFGH, we are in the same status across these two jurisdictions. While we are watching re-opening across all of the jurisdictions in which we do our work, we have not been and will not be tied to those re-opening frameworks. They inform our work on re-opening and safe return to work protocols, they do not dictate them. 

It is important to note that no day programs or day services in any of the jurisdictions have re-opened to in-person supports. There were a couple organizations that had announced plans to re-open in October; however, all have now scrapped re-opening plans until January at the earliest. Additionally, the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Administration has continued to urge enormous (and, in our view, appropriate) caution, and “is in no hurry to re-open.” Like all of us, this is a reflection of concerns around the disproportionately far more severe outcomes to COVID-19 infections that we are seeing among people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

We are monitoring major metrics and data for Maryland and Virginia (source:
https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/region) and for the counties in which we do our work (sources: https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/covid19/data/https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/covid19/case-information; and, https://covid19-geohub-loudoungis.hub.arcgis.com/#dashboards). We are looking, essentially, for trends in infection rates, which can inform assessments of community viral load. The higher the load, the greater the chance of infection as restrictions ease. These are not our only data sources, but they combine with others to offer us critical information to inform our decisions. Unfortunately in both Maryland and Virginia, the trends in case count are upward overall.  
While all of that planning and analysis is happening, we are searching the world over for fun, for connection, for meaningful engagement and for joy for the folks we support as well as our staff. As these months have ticked over, we recognize that the ‘stuff’ that we thought was fun and made us happy three months ago is boring today…a bit of “been there, done that.” So, we are happy to hear your suggestions and best ideas on ways to engage people, to bring laughter and joy to all, and to make the very best of this virtual world that is our current reality. 

Take a look at our upcoming events here-- these are for people we support, our staff and for YOU! I hope you’ll join us for any or all. We also continue to publish weekly calendars of events—some are for the whole of the organization, others for particular people or homes. All are optional and are combined with other activities going on in particular locations. There are lots of options. But, we know that for some of us, there’s little that resonates. This is where we need your best ideas and best thinking! Know of a fun game? A great website? A new or different way to Zoom for exercise or wellness or music or anything? Want to volunteer to organize and lead a JFGH Virtual Acting Troupe or a choir? How about a community project or letter writing campaign? Surely, with a community like ours, we can come up with all sorts of fabulous ideas. On this we can all agree: With so much that worries us these days, we need more joy, more smiles, more laughter, more love. And yes, it takes a village! Please submit all ideas to fabulousideas@jfgh.org.

  
Thanks for all you are doing and thanks in advance for all you’ll continue doing to support JFGH. We can’t do it without all of us pulling in the same direction. Even as we are apart, we remain together. 
  
Shabbat Shalom.

  
David

David Ervin, JFGH CEO, dervin@jfgh.org