Hatzolah Leader Says People Without Antibodies Should Stay in Lockdown, Even Masks Won't Stop Transmission Right Now
“People without COVID antibodies should not be going anywhere over Yom Tov, or really any other time,” said a 30-year veteran of Hatzolah, who wished to remain anonymous.
“Especially, anyone who is older than 60, anyone with any medical history, and anyone otherwise at risk should stay home in total lockdown right now, but really anyone without antibodies should not go anywhere. They should stay quarantined.”
Right now, for those who don’t have antibodies, COVID is surging and even masks won’t help, the trained paramedic said.
“People without antibodies need to stay home right now,” insisted the Hatzolah volunteer, who explained that the COVID rate is going up because the people who don’t have antibodies are not being careful.
“People are asking me,” the Hatzolah leader said, “Can I go to a small shul?”
“I say, ‘No!’ Even a small shul might have one person who has it, and then you are going to get it.”
“I tell people who have not yet had COVID, ‘Go back to where you were on Pesach. Go to your porch. If there are neighbors, fine, daven [socially distanced from them,] if not, then daven yourself.”
Of course, wanting to keep Boro Parkers safe and healthy, the Hatzolah volunteer says he has “the most conservative perspective toward the lockdown in Boro Park.”
However, on Aug. 20, after 16 people tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a wedding in Boro Park, Dave A. Chokshi, MD, New York City’s health commissioner, held a conference call with members of the Jewish press to debunk the popularly-held opinion that everyone with COVID antibodies is immune to the deadly disease.
“Everyone, whether they have positive or negative antibodies for COVID-19, must people continue to take precautions to prevent the spread of this disease,” explained Dr. Chokshi. “Until we have scientific evidence that people with antibodies are immune to COVID-19, our job as healthcare providers is to protect people and prevent further suffering.”
“The duration of any immunity that exists and how protective it is remains uncertain, which is why regardless of whether you have a positive antibody test or a negative one, we all must continue to adhere to preventive and protective measures, such as face coverings, hand washing, and keeping distance from others.
“These safety measures save lives,” Dr. Chokshi said.
For the last days of Yom Tov, and always, even people with antibodies, should take care to practice proper hand hygiene, explained the Hatzolah volunteer, who mentioned that hand-shaking, dancing, shared siddurs, Chumashim, Torahs, and other seforim, are all dangerous sites of virus transmission among people.
“People have to wash their hands with soap throughout the day,” reminded the Hatzolah volunteer. “Even not just during the time of coronavirus, but throughout the flu and cold season, and in general, people should practice more hand hygiene.”
A more widespread use of hand sanitizer also can help to kill germs and viruses from spreading in the community, he said.
“The more people see hand sanitizer out there in shuls and other environments, the more people get used to using it,” the paramedic said. “When I come into a place where the hand sanitizer is right there, I use it, and everyone else should as well.”
“The more we can put hand sanitizers for people to use, the better it is for everyone’s safety, and not just for during this COVID surge.”
Other safety tips the Hatzolah volunteer pointed out for the second days were to encourage everyone to stay far away from any protests that are not organized by elected community leaders, and for parents to keep an eye not only on the whereabouts of their children, but also on their parents.
“It is important for people to check in on their elderly parents, and make sure that they are OK, eating right, drinking right, and taking their medications.”
Often during Yom Tov, parents stay with their children or in unfamiliar environments, and they feel displaced, they don’t have the foods they usually eat, or they forget to take their medications, the volunteer said.
“We get calls about people’s parents all the time over Yom Tov,” he said.