We all remember the horrors of March and April of this year.
Hospitals overflowing with coronavirus patients. Hundreds of deaths in our community. Unable to see loved ones. Families irreversibly torn apart. Yeshivos, batei medrash, and businesses shuttered. Life as we knew it turned upside down.
For several months, the coronavirus seemed to have gone away. Our lives began a return to a semblance of normalcy. But the virus never left, and the data is showing it beginning a rapid comeback, especially in our community. We must do our best to ensure it does not return.
The positivity rates in our community are higher than in most of New York City. This is an undebatable, scientific fact.
We join with our community’s own health experts, doctors and Hatzolah in asking that everyone, young and old, follow all the health guidelines: social distancing, proper hygiene, and especially wearing masks whenever in a public place indoors, and even outdoors where it is difficult to socially distance.
In shul? Wear a mask.
In a supermarket? Wear a mask.
In a clothing store? Wear a mask.
On the street? Wear a mask.
Contrary to what some may believe, no community in New York has herd immunity. The idea that many have had the virus and therefore we are all safe is not backed up by what we are seeing in rising positivity rates. Nobody should make any assumptions about this virus, which is still so new and about which we still know very little.
Some might say, “Well if no one tests, the numbers won’t be there.” That is not a solution in our community, and in fact, may be playing a role in our high numbers. Those who are presently testing in our community are typically either symptomatic in some way, are tested as part of routine health care, or are required to test in order to return to work or attend school. The testing is unavoidable. What is avoidable is our positivity numbers.
Has any one of us forgotten the harsh restrictions of the shutdown so soon? When our yeshivos were shuttered, our children’s education and peace of mind were deeply affected, possibly irreversibly. When gatherings were banned, we departed from loved ones at lonely levayos. The imposed closures forced so many of our businesses into bankruptcy or near bankruptcy. We simply cannot afford a return to the days of March and April. And we certainly cannot afford to gamble with people’s lives.
So many times over the Yamim Nora’im, we beseeched the Ribbono Shel Olam to save us from mageifah. We place our unquestioning faith in Hashem for everything, but we must also do our own hishtadlus. May we all be zocheh to enjoy a pleasant Yom Tov, and a continued march forward to the end of this plague.