Friends, families and supporters:
 
We’ve had one heckuva week! Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced significant changes to masking guidelines. Earlier in the week, Governor Larry Hogan announced significant easing of pandemic-related restrictions (effective this weekend), and Montgomery County Executive Mark Elrich just yesterday highlighted the County’s restrictions are tied to vaccination rates—when 50% of County residents are fully vaccinated, the County’s protocols will toggle to mirroring the State Department of Health’s protocols. (As of yesterday, 13 May, 44.7% of County residents are fully vaccinated.)
 
This week also brought the approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for use with kids aged 12-15, an enormously important step toward reaching so-called herd immunity.
 
As of yesterday, full vaccination rates in our region stood at 40.2% in Maryland, 38.5% in Virginia and 36.6% in Washington DC (Source: COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker: How Many People Have Been Vaccinated In The U.S.? : Shots - Health News : NPR). These rates, while promising and certainly trending in the right direction, are worth noting as a bit of a cautionary note. Recall that herd immunity is between 70-80%, with some suggesting the number is as high as 90%. We have some way still to go.
 
At JFGH, we too are easing restrictions, albeit slowly and methodically. It appears we’ve experienced one of the statistically rare breakthrough infections with a person in the JFGH family. Apparently contracted while in either a rehabilitation facility or in hospital (not contracted while in a JFGH home or location—so, no exposure risks within JFGH), the person was fully vaccinated in March and was diagnosed with COVID-19 this month. The person remains hospitalized. As I shared with you last month, the research continues to rather definitively suggest that people with IDD are at the greatest risk of infection and significant outcomes from infection.
 
This informs our approach to lifting restrictions and evolving protocols. We are moving from long-term ‘live-in’ stints among our DSPs to modified shift-based support models. We are re-opening our MOST programs to hybrid models of in-person and virtual supports. We continue to welcome family visits of all shapes and sizes, both indoors and out, to folks we support in community living supports. We are getting ourselves increasingly back into the community and back to the things we enjoy doing for fun. We are working with day support providers to prepare folks we support to return to jobs and other day supports. We too are coming back into the bright light of day, thank goodness, a little squinty and bleary-eyed, but dedicated to our return to normalcy. Keep up with regularly updated information on our COVID-19 Vaccination Q&A.
 
Speaking of returning to normalcy, this weekend brings us the 2021 version of our annual Bruce K. Smith Sibling Network brunch to be held on Zoom, Sunday, May 16, at 10am. Once again, this joyful moment to connect virtually is graciously sponsored by Nick Cibel and the Cibel family. Please register here!
 
David
 
David Ervin, JFGH CEO, dervin@jfgh.org