Jewish Community Health Update – April 20, 2020

April 20, 2020

Dear Community Members,

As physicians who are Torah Observant, on the frontlines, and otherwise deeply involved in the COVID-19 pandemic, we implore the entire community to CONTINUE STRICT ADHERENCE to all current restrictions WITHOUT EXCEPTION. This includes isolation and quarantine, social distancing, mask wearing, stay-at-home orders, and no mixing of households. Since Pesach has ended, NOTHING HAS BEEN RELAXED!

We are very concerned that premature loosening of restrictions IS OCCURRING and is highly likely to result in further disease transmission and, G-d forbid, loss of life. We cannot let our guard down!

Our community has been very fortunate thus far in the COVID-19 pandemic, with relatively low rates of infection and hospitalization. For this we are grateful to Hashem. We also believe this is due in large part to the
Community’s high degree of compliance with the Medical Advisory Board’s recommendations.

However, the pandemic has not yet peaked in the St. Louis region. We are still in a situation of SAKANAT NEFASHOT that has not changed since before Pesach. The Medical Advisory Board believes that our community remains at higher than average risk for rapid coronavirus transmission. We are a close knit, multigenerational, interconnected community and, with our family and religious commitments, have a strong, ongoing potential for contact. It has been obvious to us that government guidelines alone are insufficient to keep our community safe.

Recent studies have shown that COVID-19 is much more prevalent than current data reflect. It is transmitted by infected people with no symptoms. People can remain contagious for weeks, even after symptoms resolve. In addition, people who have had COVID-19 might not become immune and can become re-infected.

Therefore, it remains imperative that everybody continue all restrictions and STAY AT HOME. Any outing from the home must be only for essential needs and performed with the strictest of social distancing and mask wearing. The prohibition on minyanim and all other gatherings must remain in place. Travel of family members from out of town to our community must not occur. Households must not mix.

We deeply empathize with our fellow community members and understand the difficulty of these guidelines. These temporary measures are not easy to follow, but they remain medically necessary and lifesaving. In the coming weeks, as the local peak passes and when more St. Louis specific data becomes available, the Medical Advisory Board hopes to develop data-driven criteria that will allow for slow and careful relaxation of current restrictions, as the concern for SAKANAT NEFASHOT allows.

May it be Hashem’s will that our community be spared any further pain. COVID-19 St. Louis Jewish Medical Advisory Board,
Larry Brown, MD, PhD, Emergency Medicine
Craig Reiss, MD, Cardiology
Mark Friedman, MD, Cardiology
Todd Silverman, MD, Neurology
Daniela Hermelin, MD, Pathology, Anatomic and Clinical
Greg Storch, MD, Infectious Disease
Morey Gardner, MD, Infectious Disease
Dov Zeffren, MD, Allergy/Immunology Tessa Gardner, MD, Infectious Disease

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