National Veterans Awareness Members,
The purpose of this update is to share the latest info on COVID safety protocols and the possible effects on the 2022 NVAR.
Despite the recent spike in COVID hospitalizations and clamp downs in various areas around the country, we are still optimistic about seeing you on the 2022 National Veterans Awareness Ride. The NVAR is much needed by the Veterans in the VA facilities and much needed by all of us. We are hoping that the Omicron variant infections are peaking and that we will see improvements by May, but….
In sampling around the country, we are seeing more and more restrictions being put into place to protect customers, visitors, patients, employees and students. Tough restrictions on visitors have been put back into place in many hospitals. Where it’s possible, many companies ae continuing to allow/encourage working remotely. And, school systems are debating in-person vs. remote learning.
Many cities across America are currently, or soon will be, requiring proof of vaccination. Chicago and Cook county in Illinois require proof of vaccination for most indoor activities. Boston requires proof of vaccination for restaurants, museums, movie theaters, sports stadiums, etc. It’s a similar situation in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, New York City, San Francisco and New Orleans. Even without local government mandates, some establishments in Los Angeles, Seattle and Atlanta are requiring proof of vaccination. In many of these cities, hotels with dining areas are requiring proof of vaccinations in areas where there is eating or drinking. It goes without saying that the wearing of masks will be mandatory in areas that require proof of vaccinations.
This is serious stuff. Not only is COVID deadly serious but the safety protocols being put into place can have major implications for the 2022 NVAR.
If things stay nasty, we could be required to show proof of vaccinations at VA Hospitals and Homes, schools that we visit, places where we eat, convenience stores where we pay for gas/use the restrooms/buy a hot dog, possibly even motels in areas where food and drinks are served.
We are definitely not saying that all of these safety protocols are going to happen but six months ago, I never thought my local burger joint would card me for proof of vaccinations when I go in to sit down and have a burger and a Coke (this happened to my wife and me two nights ago).
So, here’s what we are going to do:
We are not going to mandate vaccines to participate in the NVAR but we wanted to make sure that everyone understands what the potential downsides are for a person not being able to prove that he/she is fully vaccinated. (By the way, at the current time, “fully vaccinated” means having two shots of Moderna or Pfizer or one shot of J&J. The definition of “fully vaccinated” could change by May to mean having all of your shots plus a booster).
For those of you who want to ensure that you will be prepared for any situation, you have time to get vaccinated before the NVAR. For those of you who don’t want to get vaccinated, we wanted you to at least understand the potential issues that may arise as we ride across America.
In a previous NVAO Update, we announced that we would supply bracelets to the NVAR participants who want to show that they are fully vaccinated. We are going to rescind that announcement. If NVAR participants are going to be required to show proof of vaccinations, a bracelet isn’t going to suffice. We will have to show to a member of the establishments we’re visiting our vaccination card or vaccination proof on our cell phones.
To reiterate, we are not mandating vaccinations, but we wanted to explain the potential downsides of not being prepared. The currently planned NVAR ride schedule and motel schedule are on the NVAO website (nvao.us). For those of you who are new to the organization, you can learn more about us by going to the website to the sections titled: “What the National Veterans Awareness Ride Is All About” and “Addressing Veterans in Hospitals and Homes”.
The State Coordinators will touch base with their contacts (VA facilities, schools, organizations providing dining, etc.) in late March and we’ll get back to you with the most up to date status of the ride and safety protocols.
Hang in there, everybody. Stay flexible and stay safe.
Be careful out there.
Board of Directors – National Veterans Awareness Organization