Coronavirus Update #31: Resocializing and Gimmel Tammuz

The Gedaliah Society, in conjunction with Dr. Rosen, released guidelines with respect to resocializing on the individual and community levels, and questions related to Gimmel Tammuz travel.

Following the previous updates, we’ve received many questions as to the parameters of cautious resocialization, and we’d like to further clarify and outline some of these guidelines. As stated many times, although we are reassured by the current lack of new cases in Crown Heights, there is much about this virus that remains unknown, and this must be balanced against the psychosocial considerations, of which there are many. The following comments pertain to our community here in Crown Heights only.

On the individual level:

  • With respect to resocializing, the following principles apply:
    • The younger and healthier one is, the lower the chance of getting dangerously ill.
    • Those that have already been ill with COVID, either with convincing symptoms OR with positive antibodies, to the best of our knowledge are:
      • More likely to be protected from getting infected, at least in the short term
      • Less likely to be contagious if they have not had symptoms recently
    • At least to some degree, masks and social distancing decrease the spread of the virus.
    • All else being equal, outdoors is safer than indoors
  • It is with these principles in mind that we attempt to put out guidelines, as a general frame of reference. There remains many unanswerable gray zones, and at some level, individuals will have to use the guidelines to make their own individual risk assessments.
    • To those above 65 (or who have significant underlying health issues such as diabetes and lung disease) who have NOT been sick yet and do NOT have antibodies, please continue to take significant caution.
      • If it is beneficial for you to have family members visit, then masks and social distancing should continue to be maintained, and family members who have already been sick pose a lower degree of risk than family members who have NOT been sick.
      • If it is beneficial for you to go outside for whatever reason, then it is important to wear a mask and maintain strict social distancing. This includes outdoor minyanim as well, which are discussed below.
    • To those above 65 who have already been sick OR have antibodies, you are at a lower risk for getting ill than those your age who have not been sick yet.
      • You can socialize with those close to you, but please be aware that you should take steps to minimize the risk if you can, including distancing and masks to the extent feasible, and preferentially socializing with those who have already been ill.
    • To those who are relatively young (children, or those in their 20s or 30s)
      • Overall we think the risk of your beginning to resocialize is low. We still advise common sense precaution – avoiding crowded areas, particularly indoors, and avoiding those that are ill, have been recently ill, or have been in close contact with someone ill.
      • Similarly, we still ask that you wear a mask when going outdoors, to protect those around you.
    • To those in the middle group, which as a rough approximation is between 40 and 65.
      • When looking at the NYC data on those who have been seriously ill, this group (40-64) has been more seriously affected than the younger group, and therefore a higher sense of caution is advised.
      • If you have not been sick yet and do not have antibodies, you should continue to take precautions – you can socialize with those close to you if you feel this would be beneficial, but the attempt should be made to restrict this to those unlikely to be infectious. Social distancing and masks should continue to be adhered to.  Similarly, going outside and on errands should be done as needed, with those similar precautions of masks and social distancing.
      • If you have been sick already or have antibodies, you may socialize, and please practice the same common sense precautions as the younger group – avoiding crowded areas, particularly indoors, and avoiding those that are ill, have been recently ill, or have been in close contact with someone ill. Similarly, we still ask that you wear a mask when going outdoors.
    • As a general rule, where there is possible danger, one should err on the side of caution to the extent feasible.
  • It goes without saying: Even with those low risk groups that are beginning to resocialize, crowded indoor places, such as indoor weddings where there is dancing and mingling in close quarters and a complete breakdown of social distancing, remain potentially dangerous to those unprotected, who may be swept along into a “makom sekana”.
  • We must continue to be exceedingly vigilant as to the possibility of new cases in our community, G-d forbid. If anyone has new COVID-like symptoms, please fill this out in the registry: New COVID Registry.

On the communal level:

  • Outdoor minyanim are preferred to indoor minyanim
  • Indoor minyanim should follow the guidelines previously posted, which include social distancing (6 feet apart), mask wearing, and other guidelines.
  • Outdoor minyanim should likewise continue to follow social distancing and masks are advised. Once again high risk individuals (defined above) need to be particularly cautious with mask use and distancing. It behooves other members of the minyan to recognise another’s vulnerability and keep their distance.
  • Many men’s mikvaos are in the process of reopening. Without strict oversight and guidelines, this poses an unacceptable degree of risk and should not be done. However, with proper oversight, the risk can be significantly minimized.
    • Those over 65 should not attend the mikvah at this time. Similarly, those ill or recently ill should not attend.
    • Those who use the mikvah must be particularly vigilant to observe social distancing at all times in the mikvah, as well as hand washing/disinfecting and other issues pertaining to personal hygiene.

Related to travel (for the foreseeable future, including Gimmel Tammuz):

  • At this time we do not regard air travel as safe for anyone except the lowest risk individuals on essential business.
  • Susceptible individuals who travel outside the community are at risk of becoming ill in a setting where cases are still prevalent. Thus when they return to Crown Heights they should continue to separate themselves from vulnerable others, and monitor themselves closely, immediately reporting any suspicious symptoms.
  • Particularly concerning are those travelling to Crown Heights, who may not have had the virus and who live  elsewhere in places where there may still be sporadic cases occurring, and who are inadvertently carrying the illness with them. In order for all the members of our community (including the vulnerable) to attempt a cautious return to socialization, we must ask those intending to visit Crown Heights to postpone their trips for the foreseeable future. This might not work out with your plans, but it is for our protection. Thank you in advance for being considerate.

For any further COVID related questions, please email [email protected]. In addition, if you have not yet filled out the general community survey, please do so here: COVID/Antibody Survey

With best wishes for a safe, healthy and enjoyable Shavuos. May each and everyone receive the Torah anew, in a joyful and meaningful way!

  • The Gedaliah Society, in conjunction with Dr. Rosen

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