Hundreds of people sitting closely together in synagogue services, shaking hands or hugging to exchange greetings, sharing communal food during collations and in a neighbor’s home.
These are just some of the many positive things that has made the Jewish community in North Jersey strong. But those same things all contribute to the greater risk of spreading infectious diseases, such as COVID-19.
The Rabbinical Council of Bergen County took a heroic step last week when it temporarily banned communal prayer services, celebrations such as weddings and bar and bat mitzvahs, and even visits to home to comfort mourners. Theswd to as the coronavirus, the Jewish community, like all faith-based communities, must be extra vigilant in the current environment to ensure that their members stay healthy and safe. I have been encouraged by the tremendously positive response the Jewish community has taken to this community health challenge. Rabbis have provided important guidance on how to modify religious practice as needed.
We should, unfortunately, expect more cases being reported in the coming weeks; COVID-19 is highly contagious, spreading similarly to the flu. But an important note is that 80 percent of those throughout the world who tested positive for COVID-19 experienced only mild disease.
The Jewish community recently celebrated the festive holiday of Purim. In a few more weeks, Passover will be upon us. Traditionally, this is a holiday of large family gatherings and travel. Hence, we urge people to remember to be vigilant in their prevention practice to avoid exposure.
Since there now is no vaccine to prevent the virus, I would remind you of the following tips to help prevent illness and avoid exposure:
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Stay home when you are sick.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular disinfecting household cleaning spray or wipe.
If you or a loved one or friend become sick, has symptoms, or is concerned, call your healthcare provider first, before you go to the emergency room, urgent care, or your primary care doctor.
Holy Name Medical Center will continue to provide daily updates on coronavirus at HolyName.org/Coronavirus, through periodic livestreams on YouTube, and on our social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Dr. Suraj Saggar is chief of infectious diseases at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck.