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An open letter to the Jewish community of the Five Towns

Posted

We are writing to express our unanimous medical opinion regarding our community’s actions and attitudes towards the Covid-19 pandemic.  Our consensus group includes physicians from a variety of specialties.  We wish to express our clear and concerted support for some positions that we feel are medically indisputable:

1) Covid-19 remains a clear and present danger.  After a quiet summer, cases are now on the rise, specifically in our community.  Covid-19 is not a political issue, nor is it old news.  If our goal is to keep shuls and schools open and our neighborhood stores in business, we need to recognize that the uptick demands that we take it seriously and follow appropriate precautions.

2) People who have a positive test, recent exposure or who have been in a region requiring quarantine need to strictly uphold the quarantine without exception, including for shul and school.  In questions of doubt regarding exposure, we should attempt to be stringent, not lenient.  Travel from states on the New York state designated travel advisory list or known Covid-19 exposure requires a 14-day quarantine period.

In the event of a positive Covid-19 test, an individual is required to isolate for at minimum 10 days, or longer based on the duration of symptoms. The quarantine regulations are not suggestions, they are absolute requirements.  Violating them will undoubtedly lead to accelerated community spread and puts lives at real risk.  People should be in close contact with their physicians regarding any Covid-related concerns.

3) Masking to prevent Covid-19 infection has a strong evidence base that is agreed upon by the overwhelming majority of doctors and public health experts. There is no credible evidence that masks have any risks for those who wear them. They are most effective when worn both by those who have the virus and those at risk of catching it. 

Wearing a mask is not just about one’s personal choice, but also about not spreading the virus to others in the event of asymptomatic or early infection. Masks should not have a breathing valve or vent, since these expose others to potential infection. Masks with breathing valves are for protecting the wearer from environmental dust and debris and not meant for infection control.

4) Local schools and yeshivot have invested substantial effort into formulating safe plans to allow schools to open and remain open.  The details of these plans may vary, but the medical advisory boards have done their utmost to ensure schools can stay open safely. By helping their children adhere to these new rules, parents can play an integral role in enabling in-person school to continue.

5) As current contact tracing evidence has shown, many of the new cases of infection have arisen from large gatherings (weddings, bar and bat mitzvah, concerts ...) where social distancing and/or mask wearing was not strictly observed.   While we pray that we should know of happy occasions, these must be celebrated according to a “new norm” and in a fashion that will cause the least risk of community transmission.  Large gatherings are best kept to a small number of people, outdoors if possible, with social distancing and mask rules applied. More information can be found at

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/community/COVID19-events-gatherings-readiness-and-planning-tool.pdf

Finally, biomedical research is a body of knowledge like any other.  Interpreting it requires knowledge of medicine and understanding of statistics.  Assuming that someone has thoroughly researched a position based on their reading a popular summary or even an abstract alone can lead to erroneous and dangerous conclusions.

You trust us to take care of you when you are sick and at your most vulnerable, and in life and death decisions. You trust us to deliver your babies, treat your children, manage your chronic conditions, and fix your fractures.  We collectively request that you trust us in this, as well.

Rabbi Aaron E. Glatt

Alissa Hersh

Hylton Lightman

Ilana Pister

Pamela Singer

Joshua Schechter

Annie Frenkel

Marc J. Sicklick

Steven Kellner

David Rosenberg

Joseph Rozenbaum

Dan A. Kaufman

Marcel Scheinman

Ray Sultan

Alisa Minkin

Tova Fischer Isseroff

Jonathan Zinberg

Elie Lowenstein

Harold S. Hefter

Sherrie Neustein

Alyssa Feiner

Moshe Weizberg

Donnie Isseroff

Jill Leibowitz

Stanley Goldstein

Steve Mermelstein

Jonathan Y Rosner

Yussy Silverstein

Rebecca Zausmer

Edward Stroh

Norman Saffra

Frida Popilevsky

Daniel Haller

Sam Singer

Ben Chill

Danny Bamira

Josh Greenstein

Sam Weissman

Joshua Kalowitz

Aaron B. Grotas

Shari Seinuk-Ross

Seymour Huberfeld

Shira Burnstein

Steven Weiss

Farid Shahkoohi

Steven Kadish

Sheldon P. Hersh

Elizabeth Edelstein

Joseph Simpson

Elliot M. Paul

Elliott Salamon

Jordan Brodsky

Robert van Amerongen

Yoseph Gurevich

Jacob Rauchwerger

Daphna Shiffeldrim

David Wolfson

Max S. Scheer

Karyn Chanie Ginaburg

Haim Brandspiegel

Peretz Lock

Yaakov Lipshitz

Charles Mitgang

Naomi Schwartz

Harold Lipsky

Miriam R. Lieberman

Anne Steiner

Ari Steiner

Aviva Preminger

Victor Milloul

Ezra Haller

Cindy Haller

David Hersh

Dan Geisler

Rabbi Chaim S. Abittan

Shloime Dalezman

Yosefa Hefter

Miriam Knoll

Michael Grushko

Debbie Rybak

Sheldon Gorbacz

Suzanne Sirota Rozenberg

Shoni Rozenberg

Barbara Schwartz

Freddie Marton

Shira Wieder

Eli Halpert

Rabin Rahmani

Zahava Hersh

Martin E Kessler

Deborah Lief-Dienstag

Zev Carrey

Paul Friedmann

Daniel Frogel

David E. Simai

Victor Rosenberg

Fred Greenstein

Hana Ilan

Elliot Lederman

Nechama (Nina) Ackerman

Israel Samson

Ira L. Weg

Brian Wetchler

Israel S Berkowitz

Alyssa Scheiner

Michael R. Levine

Abby Basalely

Charles Traube

Yussi Mosak

Janine Nathan

Gerald Schulman

Jay Fenster

Benjamin Levine

Simcha Herrmann

Leonard A. Feiner

Jeff Lumerman

Jonathan Schulhof

Abraham I Green

Zev Ash

Mark Sperber

Ari Ginsberg

Moshe Schlusselberg

Max Halpern

Stephen Henesch

Rivkie Penstein-Hirt

Ingrid Soltys

Jeffrey A Spivak

Arnold Stein

Samuel Sandowski

Michael I. Oppenheim

Jessica L. Kirschner

Morey Klein

Judith Green

Marilyn Kattuputhusseril

Avi Schiowitz

Miriam Flaum

Yacov Stollman

Jeffrey Frieling