Health Officials Worry About Spike In COVID Cases With Jewish High Holy Days Approaching

Orthodox Jewish man
Photo credit Anthony Behar
By WCBS Newsradio 880
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The Jewish High Holy Days are fast approaching but there are new concerns about rising coronavirus cases in some of New York City’s Orthodox neighborhoods. 

Last week, the city’s Department of Health issued a warning after graphs showed a rise in infection rates throughout Borough Park, Far Rockaway and Midwood.

The Health Department then sent a letter to Orthodox media outlets, urging them to assure residents there is no evidence of herd immunity. 

Now, New York State lawmakers are worrying about the upcoming holidays.

“Last year's High Holy Days, Rosh Hashanah, no one thought for a moment that they would lose so many loved ones, friends, relatives and others,” said State Sen. Simcha Felder.

He says it's going to be complicated keeping traditions alive in the middle of a pandemic but, he says some synagogues are offering several services a day.

“They are able to accommodate many more people with social distancing,” Felder said.

He’s encouraging people to take part in services, but stresses that they need to wear a mask.

“There are many people that are lax, because they feel they've had it and that they can't do any damage,” he explains.

The city's health commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi warns “COVID-19 can be transmitted from an adult to a child and we are seeing transmission within households from adults to children in some of these communities.”

Dr. Aaron Glatt, a rabbi in Nassau County and the Chair of the Department of Medicine at Mount Sinai South Nassau says some in the Orthodox community think they've achieved herd immunity because of how bad things were back in the spring.

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