SCOOP: Mayor de Blasio meets with Jewish Community Leaders, who Recommend Increased Testing to Lower Positivity Rates
By Yehudit Garmaise
Boro Parkers who want to contribute to their neighborhood opening up again should make the efforts to both comply with the health guidelines and to encourage everyone to do more COVID testing, said a source familiar with a two-hour, masked, social-distanced, and in-person meeting Mayor Bill de Blasio held with Jewish leaders from across New York City last night.
“As a community, we have to get the numbers down to a very low positive percentage to get our neighborhoods opened up,” said our source. “Our numbers have gone down dramatically in the past few days, and those numbers will continue to go down, iyH, as more healthy people get tested. In the red zones, only sick people were getting tested, which was artificially inflating the positivity rates of those areas.”
“Everyone should make sure to get tested, and hopefully, as soon as possible, we can soon go back to no restrictions, schools and shuls opened. We should go back to only having to wear masks and remain socially distanced.”
“We have to be careful not to have a new spike. Getting the numbers down is the name of the game, and the only way the city and state will reopen. So, we have to do a lot of testing, get the numbers down, and our areas will no longer be hotspots or red zones.”
In the meeting, which our source called very positive and very focused on how Jewish communities can better work with city and state governments, both the mayor and the Jewish leaders committed themselves to be more sensitive to each other and more moderate in their reactions to each other.
For the mayor’s part, he said that he understood that the Jewish communities feel targeted.
“The mayor listened as we told him that we feel that the enforcement is harsh and overpowering in ways we haven’t seen in the last 75 years,” said our source, who said that the mayor claimed that the city is enforcing every red zone equally. “Now every agency: the building department, the police department, the fire department, and the sheriff’s department is flooding the neighborhood, ticketing us and making people crazy. People are running around like chickens: It is crazy.”
In response, the mayor said he understood, and admitted that perhaps the city overreacted in terms of enforcement, and that it would enforce compliance in more measured ways.
“In turn, our [Jewish] side also admitted that perhaps, we too, overreacted to the seemingly ever-increasing restrictions,” our source said. “We cannot let our emotions get out of hand, and we all have to follow the rules and the guidelines.
“The mayor wanted to listen. He doesn’t want to treat Jews in ways that are not appropriate, and he wants our community to work together with the city and the state. We should never feel that we are in a war in a fight with our government. We always have to work together.
“We are all in this pandemic together, and we are all going to get out of it together.”
One way that the mayor explained that City Hall and the Jewish communities can work better together by improving both the quality and quantity of its communication. While the mayor promised to be more sensitive to the Jewish community, he also asked Jewish community members to better comply with health protocols and to also not protest or make noise in the streets.
The mayor pointed out that while churches also sued the state about the intensified restrictions, those same churches were following the health protocols, as did New York City’s mosques.
“We are in galus, we have to follow the law," our source said. "We have to make sure to show that we are not behaving like animals who do all of this stupid stuff. We have to be good citizens, be good people, and make a Kiddush Hashem. We have to do the right things the right way, follow the rules, and our mayor and our governor will open us up, hopefully, very soon."
For their part, the Jewish leaders agreed to encourage their communities from getting too emotionally reactive, and to always comply with the health guidelines, whether they believe they are worthwhile, important, or merely politically motivated.
“The mayor said, ‘You should make a Kiddush Hashem, you should never look bad, chas v’shalom, and we should never create any anti-Semitism, G-d forbid. Right now, our neighbors around us are scared that the increased rates of the virus are going to spread to them.”
“Right now people are afraid of getting sick, and when people get afraid, they act out. Our neighbors shouldn’t feel threatened, and we have to ensure that we are not acting out and we are not G-d forbid putting anyone at risk.
“We have to do what we are supposed to be doing and dramatically increase our testing.
“We have to pray to get over this virus once and for all. Everybody should be healthy, and all the sick should get a refuah shlemah and should stay healthy. And it is already enough. We suffered a lot already. Let’s do what we can to end this gezeria.”
Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.