NEW YORK -https://hamodia.com/2020/09/06/health-c ... mmunities/
New York City is urging vigilance as it sees an increase in coronavirus cases in certain neighborhoods, including some with large Orthodox Jewish communities.
In an email Sunday evening to Orthodox media outlets, New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi wrote, “In recent days, we have observed heightened rates of COVID-19 in many neighborhoods with large Orthodox Jewish populations. The neighborhoods that have presented higher proportions of positive COVID-19 tests — when compared to adjacent areas — include the Forest Hills and Far Rockaway sections of Queens as well as the Midwood, Williamsburg and Borough Park sections of Brooklyn.” Chokshi’s letter also warns that “these communities’ past experience with COVID-19, does not guarantee immunity from future transmission. The science has not yet established that any section of New York City has reached herd immunity or even how long immunity lasts after someone has recovered from COVID-19.”
The Orthodox communities of New York City were hit hard by COVID-19 in March and April, but the disease then seemed to have nearly disappeared. A source in Hatzalah told Hamodia that the organization received virtually no COVID calls for the four month period prior mid-August. Some community members believed that herd immunity had been reached.
But during the past two weeks, Orthodox communities in New York once again started seeing a spike in cases. Mayor Bill de Blasio said some cases in Boro Park had been linked to a wedding that violated the 50-attendee limit. Chokshi held a conference call with Orthodox outlets to warn against complacency, and to encourage people to continue to wear masks, maintain social distancing, wash hands, avoid large gatherings, get tested for the virus, and communicate and cooperate with city Test & Trace officials about possible exposures.
A medical source with knowledge of the community told Hamodia on Sunday evening that whereas there had been hardly any COVID-related hospitalizations during the prior four months, in the past two weeks both the number of positive tests and percentage of tests with positive results have been spiking, and that there have been approximately 10 COVID hospitalizations in the community, including serious cases and intubations.
Overall, New York City has continued to see low infection numbers, along with the rest of the state. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the rate of total COVID test results in New York City that were positive was 0.7 percent each day, according to state figures. On Saturday, 0.85 percent of test results across the state were positive, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Sunday, representing the thirtieth consecutive day that the statewide rate was below 1 percent.
According to city data, during the past four weeks, the two zip codes with the highest percentage of people who tested for COVID that are positive, are 11204 (3.28%) and 11219 (2.5%), the main Borough Park zip codes. They are followed by 10453 (encompassing the Bronx neighborhoods of Morris Heights, Mount Hope and University Heights), 11220 (Sunset Park), 10452 (the Bronx neighborhoods of Concourse and Highbridge); 11239 (East New York); 11235 (Brighton Beach/Manhattan Beach/Sheepshead Bay); 11432 (the Queens neighborhoods of Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates and Jamaica Hills); 10455 (Mott Haven in the Bronx); and 11691 (Far Rockaway and Edgemere in Queens) rounds out the top ten. Numbers 11 through 14 on the list are Bronx zip codes 10458, 10462, 10460 and 10468. Midwood’s 11230 is number 15.
Below is the full text of Chokshi’s letter to Orthodox media Sunday evening:
I am writing to share concerning COVID-19 news that I hope you will convey to your readers in your ongoing coverage.
In recent days, we have observed heightened rates of COVID-19 in many neighborhoods with large Orthodox Jewish populations. The neighborhoods that have presented higher proportions of positive COVID-19 tests—when compared to adjacent areas—include the Forest Hills and Far Rockaway sections of Queens as well as the Midwood, Williamsburg and Borough Park sections of Brooklyn.
Moreover, we are receiving what we refer to as “signals,” in smaller sections of these neighborhoods where there are anomalous spikes in cases.
Following up on our conference call, we continue to see transmission in New York City and it appears to be happening more in communities that encompass your coverage areas than in many other parts of the city. 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.
The neighborhoods experiencing transmission were particularly hard hit in the worst weeks of the pandemic this past spring and we never want to return to those awful days.
We also must emphasize that these communities’ past experience with COVID-19, does not guarantee immunity from future transmission. The science has not yet established that any section of New York City has reached herd immunity or even how long immunity lasts after someone has recovered from COVID-19.
All New Yorkers, including children, must adhere to the Core 4, which includes washing hands, wearing face coverings (if older than two years of age), maintaining distance and staying home if ill. Everyone must also avoid large gatherings and safely isolate if exposed to someone who was found to have COVID-19. If safely isolating at home is difficult, the city can provide accommodations or additional resources. All New Yorkers should be getting tested. To find a testing site go to nyc.gov/covidtest or call 311.
We know everyone in these areas shares our deep concern for their families, friends and neighbors and we urge all New Yorkers to do their part to help us keep COVID-19 at bay.
Dr. Dave A. Chokshi, NYC Health Commissioner