Friends, families and supporters: 
  
Eight full months into the COVID-19 crisis, all of us at JFGH remain vigilant and alert to the seemingly ever-changing dynamics and impact of the pandemic on the people we support. As of this morning, we are seeing increases in infections in Montgomery County, MD, and in Fairfax County, VA. In Loudoun County, VA, data show a slight decrease in infections. In Virginia and Maryland overall, there are increases in cases. These data are not determinative for JFGH, but they are critical metrics to which we are paying very close attention to inform the development of our protocols. Like many of us across our community, we are concerned with significant increases in positive cases in most areas of the country. 
  
At JFGH, we have, over the past couple weeks, had two additional staff contract the virus. To date, 17 of our staff have contracted COVID-19. And, we’ve had a couple scares that have resulted from potential exposures. As I’ve reported previously, we have a robust testing protocol that allows us to respond very rapidly in such instances; and, our quarantine protocols are easily immediately implemented. Our staff are capable of rapid response, and while we recognize that these protocols cause inconvenience to people we support, we also continue to believe that our approach to these situations must be conservative and with an unwavering focus on protecting the health of people we support and our staff. 
  
Part of what informs our conservative approach is what we’re learning about the impact of the virus on people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). There are 12 states that publicly report COVID-19 testing and infection data specifically for their citizens with IDD. In all of them, case fatality rates are two times or more among people with IDD when compared to the states’ general populations. It is clear that the outcomes of COVID-19 infections experienced by people with IDD is far more severe than people without IDD. There is much still to learn—why are people with IDD seemingly more vulnerable? We must research and understand this question, which will come in time. In the meantime, these far more severe outcomes inform the care we are taking with establishing and evolving our protocols. 
  
In our region, the data show the following: 
Data sources: 
  
We continue to explore ideas and creative options to fully engage folks we support who are stuck at home. We hope you’ll continue to submit your wonderful ideas (remember my solicitation not too long ago…it resulted in superb ideas, many of which we’re implementing!). In the meantime, we’ve enjoyed welcoming our community to a series of virtual events over the past couple months. Mark your calendar for next Saturday (11/14) and join us for our Havdalah Happy Hour and Comedy Show. Shabbos on 14 November ends at about 5:30, which will be the beginning of our Havdalah ceremony. At 6:15 in the same Zoom room, an expert bartender will lead us through the preparation of three special cocktails. Finally, at 6:30, comedian Jeff Applebaum will take the Zoom stage to provide some much needed laughs. This event is free and open to the public. Register here for all the fun details! Don’t forget to head over to our events calendar to sign up for our other upcoming events. 
 
We hope to see you next Wednesday (11/11) at 11:30 on Facebook for our live update.  Until then, stay well, stay together while apart, and stay positive! 
  
David

David Ervin, JFGH CEO, dervin@jfgh.org