Coronavirus is Devastating Italy

by Avi Abelow

Someone in Italy is warning us all “If you are in Europe or the US you are weeks away from where we are today in Italy.” This is why Israel has already taken such drastic measures to contain the virus.

Posted on facebook by a friend:

I am writing to you from Bergamo, Italy, at the heart of the coronavirus crisis. The news media in the US has not captured the severity of what is happening here. I am writing this post because each of you, today, not the government, not the school district, not the mayor, each individual citizen has the chance, today to take actions that will deter the Italian situation from becoming your own country’s reality. The only way to stop this virus is to limit contagion. And the only way to limit contagion is for millions of people to change their behavior today.

If you are in Europe or the US you are weeks away from where we are today in Italy.

I can hear you now. “It’s just a flu. It only affects old people with preconditions”

There are 2 reasons why Coronavirus has brought Italy to it’s knees. First it is a flu is devastating when people get really sick they need weeks of ICU – and, second, because of how fast and effectively it spreads. There is 2 week incubation period and many who have it never show symptoms.

When Prime Minister Conte announced last night that the entire country, 60 million people, would go on lock down, the line that struck me most was “there is no more time.” Because to be clear, this national lock down, is a hail mary. What he means is that if the numbers of contagion do not start to go down, the system, Italy, will collapse.

Why? Today the ICUs in Lombardy are at capacity – more than capacity. They have begun to put ICU units in the hallways. If the numbers do not go down, the growth rate of contagion tells us that there will be thousands of people who in a matter of a week? two weeks? who will need care. What will happen when there are 100, or a 1000 people who need the hospital and only a few ICU places left?

On Monday a doctor wrote in the paper that they have begun to have to decide who lives and who dies when the patients show up in the emergency room, like what is done in war. This will only get worse.

There are a finite number of drs, nurses, medical staff and they are getting the virus. They have also been working non-stop, non-stop for days and days. What happens when the drs, nurses and medical staff are simply not able to care for the patients, when they are not there?

And finally for those who say that this is just something that happens to old people, starting yesterday the hospitals are reporting that younger and younger patients – 40, 45, 18, are coming in for treatment.

You have a chance to make a difference and stop the spread in your country. Push for the entire office to work at home today, cancel birthday parties, and other gatherings, stay home as much as you can. If you have a fever, any fever, stay home. Push for school closures, now. Anything you can do to stop the spread, because it is spreading in your communities – there is a two week incubation period – and if you do these things now you can buy your medical system time.

And for those who say it is not possible to close the schools, and do all these other things, locking down Italy was beyond anyone’s imagination a week ago.

Soon you will not have a choice, so do what you can now.

Please share.

Jewish Community in NY Takes Extreme Preventive Actions


*Important decision from the RCBC (COVID-19)*

The Rabbinical Council of Bergen County (RCBC) has issued an important p’sak halacha last night at a meeting attended by Bergen County Rabbanim including leadership from all synagogues and day schools.

Extreme restrictive measures in our community will be put in place beginning today including the cancellation of synagogue services, social events, s’mahot and all social gatherings. In one week, the situation will be re-assessed and a decision will be made regarding going forward for the following week. Details of these measures will be set forth in a letter from the RCBC to be delivered to the community shortly.

The decision to take these steps was made in consultation with health officials, physicians and government officials. The goal is to slow down the progression of transmission of the coronavirus within our community thereby allowing local hospitals (operating at 90% capacity before the onset of the virus) to meet the demands of the large amounts of people expected to impacted by this global pandemic.

We must now rally together as a community and follow the details of the p’sak halacha carefully so that we can help ensure the health and well being of the entire community.

Thank you for your cooperation during these very difficult and trying times.

Rabbi Haim Jachter and Joshua Murad, President

Interview with a Doctor about the Coronavirus

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