Coronavirus Update for the Crown Heights Community from the Gedalya Society and Dr. Eli Rosen: The next steps moving forward, the process of opening up and antibody tests.
With Pesach now behind us, there are many questions arising about our approach as a community in the coming days and weeks. The following is an attempt to address some of the issues, while at the same time acknowledging that there remains much about COVID, the disease and the virus, that is unknown, making clear answers to all the questions difficult if not impossible.
What we do know, based on our data thus far, is that there remains a sizable portion of our community who have not been sick yet, particularly among the elderly. In addition, there continue to be sporadic (albeit very rare) new cases in our community. We are deeply concerned that premature social mingling may result in increasing numbers of new cases, and in particular this may have a serious effect on the more vulnerable populations. This remains so particularly considering that at this time we have no reliable way of knowing when one is no longer able to infect someone else, and no reliable way of knowing with certainty when one is immune.
Therefore, as a result of the fact that we simply do not have enough information to safely make certain social decisions at this time, as well as the presence of many vulnerable members of our community, we must continue to make the following recommendations:
- If you are above age 65, have underlying health issues, or are ill, please continue to stay home.
- If you do not belong in any of those categories, you may leave your home, but please please take social distancing seriously. Keep distance between yourself and others, and wear a mask as much as possible. We have heard people say that they have had the illness, so they are not afraid, and don’t need to wear a mask. Please understand that the mask is for the protection of others in your environment, in the instance that you may still be unwittingly spreading the virus, even though feeling well. G-d forbid we do not want premature laxity in this area to lead to new cases, which can seriously affect those most at risk.
- If you have become newly ill in the past 2 weeks or so, and have close contacts who have not yet been ill, we ask that those close contacts quarantine for 14 days from when you’ve first shown symptoms.
As a community, we have been struggling against this pandemic for over a month now, and we continue to struggle. The difficulty of social isolation and distancing is, for many people, quite profound and distressing. We ask that the public please continue to adhere to the above guidelines, and we hope and pray we will be through this pandemic very soon.
We have been receiving many calls related to returning to work and daily routine in various forms. In line with our guidelines above, we are asking that we as a community continue to overall stay home as much as possible, as we have been doing the past few weeks. We believe it is too early to begin “opening up”, for fear of seeing a resurgence of cases. The process will more than likely be one of trickling back to normalcy in small steps, making sure there are no mishaps as we go, and not a sudden opening of the gates, however we are not quite there yet!
With respect to antibody testing:
- It is true that knowing everybodies antibody status would help direct decisions, however, regardless of the positive or negative result, we don’t fully know yet what bearing that has on whether one can still infect others or even whether they are truly immune. Therefore, no social decisions should be made on the basis of these results at this time. These important questions are still being studied.
- There are many “rapid” antibody tests on the market. However, to our knowledge there is no widely available community-based rapid antibody testing which is FDA approved. Please be very cautious of the many “opportunists” out there offering testing of unclear value. A BAD TEST IS WORSE THAN NO TEST!
- We are working with Mt Sinai to initiate testing that for obvious reasons will initially be offered to health care personnel.
- We will continue to update if reliable wide-spread antibody testing becomes available on a community-wide level. Repeating the caveat that knowing antibody status is only a partial answer.
Social support services:
COVID hotline: 212-901-2000
- We are open 12-8pm for this week, and Friday 10-3
- If you call and no one answers, please leave a message and someone will call you back (likely from a restricted number).
Errand support: firstname.lastname@example.org (or call the hotline)
- Errands will be open 12-6pm Monday & Thursday, and 10-3pm Fri.
- We will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday this week. If it is an urgent errand such a medication please leave a voicemail.
A special thank you to all the amazing Gedaliah Society volunteers for continually dedicating their time and energy to all these wonderful programs!
For anyone who has become sick in the last 2 weeks or so, please document that here: Hatzalah/TGS COVID Survey
We’d like to take this opportunity to once again thank the members of Hatzalah for their extraordinary and tireless efforts, truly sacrificing their own comfort and safety for the sake of our community; for that, we are eternally grateful.
Wishing everyone well,
The Gedaliah Society, in conjunction with Dr. Rosen