Friends, families and supporters:
Moadim l’simchah, happy nearly Easter to those who celebrate the holiday, greetings and salutations to all. As we move from March to April, things at JFGH are moving quick and fast, just as 2021 seems to be. From all of us to all of you, we wish you continued good health and hope that everyone in our extended JFGH family is well.
As of this past Tuesday, we have had 93.5% of JFGH staff receive at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 78.8% of our staff receiving both doses. Among folks we support, 96.0% have received both doses. While we’re not yet where we want to be (touching or at 100%!), we have made tremendous progress toward getting the whole of JFGH fully vaccinated. The result is continued work on easing restrictions and amending protocols accordingly.
People we support, staff and family members have begun receiving updates to certain protocols, and we will continue to keep this group of us informed on intimate details. For the rest of our community, you should know that we’re excited to be working on reconnecting people we support with their families (first with visits to family homes by people we support, next by way of in-person visits of family members to folks living in JFGH’s community living supports); and, we are excited to very soon announce plans for partially re-opening MOST to in-person supports. We’re also looking at things like physician office visits, particularly for non-urgent medical and dental needs that have been on hold, getting back into the broader community when and where safe and appropriate, and returning to jobs and day supports. There are many, many details to this work, and our SWARM plan is being heavily updated/amended to reflect vaccination status of people JFGH supports and our staff, as well as acknowledging the status of community vaccination rates as a means of assessing how to safely return to full community engagement.
To that end, as of today, 17.2% of adult Marylanders have been fully vaccinated, while 17.1% of adults in Virginia have been fully vaccinated. This remains a very small swath of the states in which JFGH supports people with IDD, and we are some distance from anything resembling ‘herd immunity.’ Still, we celebrate important progress as we look toward fully re-engaging people we support in the communities in which they wish to live, learn, work and play. Herd immunity, about which Dr. Anthony Fauci has spoken frequently, is estimated as low as 60% of the population being immune and as high as 90%. This includes kids, the vaccine for whom is only in early stages of clinical trial. While the data from these trials look compelling, we clearly have a way still to go to get to herd immunity. As above, though, we celebrate the progress we HAVE made, and look to take every small but critical step forward.
Finally for today, I thought you might like to read about a couple of my colleagues, Henry and Johnny, at JFGH. I admire them both and am lucky to work alongside them. They were recently featured in an exceptionally well written Healthline article on the many impacts of COVID-19 on people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and the people who support them. We owe a debt of deep gratitude to Karen Sosnoski, the article’s author, for her attention to these issues. Enjoy.
Stay safe—yes, we still need to wear our masks and wash our hands and keep our distance. And, get your vaccine as soon as it becomes available. Vaccines are safe and effective, and they offer us a path back to connection and engagement. Thanks so much for all of your support.