Coronavirus is on the rise right here at home. The Hatzolah emergency ambulance services are warning the Jewish community to remain vigilant when around others. A recent alarming rash of positive COVID-19 cases has popped up in the local areas of Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates, Rego Park and Richmond Hills. With Rosh Hashanah just around the corner, the community is advised to wear masks and social distance by any means necessary. The cases that have arisen are not all mild and several locals are hospitalized on ventilators.
It was not that long ago that the tristate area Orthodox community was hard hot by the pandemic, losing over 1,000 Jewish souls to the virus. Thousands fell ill and hundreds perished, including a long morbid list of respected leading rabbis. The community watched in awe as crowds often hand-in-hand gathered for joyous ceremonies and shoulder-to-shoulder for depressing funerals. It is our hope and prayer that our community does not return to those days of fear, but for the sake of sanctifying God's name, the community is asked to respect and comply with regulations and protocols.
We cannot verify that those who have recovered and still have antibodies are immune from an additional exposure. Nor, is there evidence that those who have recovered cannot pass on the virus to others. For the safety of your friends and family, take precautions.
This past Sunday evening, September 6, NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi penned a note to Orthodox media outlets, observing heightened rates of COVID-19 in many neighborhoods with large Orthodox Jewish populations. “Moreover, we are receiving what we refer to as ‘signals,’ in smaller sections of these neighborhoods where there are anomalous spikes in cases.” The memorandum added, “COVID-19 can be transmitted from an adult to a child and we are seeing transmission within households from adults to children in some of these communities. The neighborhoods experiencing transmission were particularly hard hit in the worst weeks of the pandemic this past spring and we never want to return to those awful days. We also must emphasize that these communities’ past experience with COVID-19, does not guarantee immunity from future transmission. The science has not yet established that any section of New York City has reached herd immunity or even how long immunity lasts after someone has recovered from COVID-19.”
Chokshi gives the community some advice that is worth repeating, “All New Yorkers, including children, must adhere to the Core 4, which includes washing hands, wearing face coverings (if older than two years of age), maintaining distance and staying home if ill. Everyone must also avoid large gatherings and safely isolate if exposed to someone who was found to have COVID-19.”
Since the height of the pandemic in March and April, the disease was presumed by many to have merely disappeared, as the community experienced high rates of positive antibody tests and became a major source for plasma donations, many run through the Covid Plasma Initiative. A member of the local Queens Hatzalah spoke on condition of anonymity “Our members have received virtually no COVID related calls in the four-month period prior to August 15.” He added, “Things have slowly changed, and immunity is not a sure factor.” The rise comes following the three weeks after Tisha B’av when weddings and smachot returned. All are reminded that while the worst is behind us, the end might very well be far off.
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