A message from the Health Response Team regarding masking and vaccination status at UUFWC
In an effort to provide the best, up-to-date advice to the fellowship, we follow numbers on the CDC dashboard as well as national trends to help inform our decision-making about masking requirements, We have actually been more conservative than the CDC up until this point asking for masking as times in the yellow zone (mod risk) as well as the red (high risk) as we saw case counts rise in the area. Currently, Wayne County is Green (low risk) and looks to continue that way. This means we will change to masking optional and allow coffee again and allow small groups to be mask optional.
Masking is welcome and encouraged for anyone that would still choose to do so for their protection based on their risk and comfort. For those that are more vulnerable, it is worth knowing that “one-way masking”, (wearing a mask even when others don’t) confers significant protection. In fact, in a study cited in this article, it was found that One person wearing a KN95 is better in some studies than both people wearing a surgical mask (Primary study link)
Thankfully, the landscape of Covid is not the same as it has been the past two fall seasons. We have increased availability of effective therapeutics and very effective vaccinations. We are transitioning into a time where we learn to live with covid (endemic) rather than the pandemic. As we approach a new round of recently released booster doses, it is worth considering our collective goals with vaccines. Vaccination is primarily to reduce the risk of severe disease and hospitalization. While vaccination does provide some protection against any symptomatic disease, especially in the period after a booster, it is still possible to contract Covid, even when fully vaccinated and boosted. Simply put, we are going to have to live with this virus circulating and it is not feasible to vaccinate it to eradication.
In Wayne County, 46.4 % of all residents and 81.5% of over 65-year-olds (our most vulnerable population) have primary vaccines. It is significantly higher within our fellowship. We don’t know specific numbers of those who have had an infection but the low end of the national estimate is 60% (noted here). In our population at large in the US over 90% have either been infected or vaccinated. It is comforting to know that both infection and vaccination appear to produce some long-term immunity for severe infection with Covid even if antibodies wane (our best protection against mild infection and helped with booster doses) In one study the authors state “Acquired immunity from vaccination is certainly much safer and preferred. Given the evidence of immunity from previous SARS-CoV-2 infection, however, policymakers should consider recovery from previous SARS-CoV-2 infection equal to immunity from vaccination for purposes related to entry to public events, businesses, and the workplace, or travel requirements” It is for these encouraging reasons that, when reviewing the data, we do not feel that we need to require vaccination to engage in fellowship activities as most individuals will have some protection. We recognize that these changes may be welcome by some and not by others and that we are all at different stages of physical and emotional vulnerability to Covid. We will continue to encourage everyone to be vaccinated as it remains the safest and best protection against Covid and encourage all to discuss individual risks with their medical providers.
The Health Response Team: Dr. Adam Keating, Dr. Nick Relle, Alex Lowry, Chris Stormer, Larry Madden, Leslie Mayfield