Coronavirus News: New York City monitoring Jewish holidays for possible uptick in cases

COVID-19 News and Information

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Thursday, September 24, 2020
Health officials monitoring Jewish holidays for COVID spikes
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Cuomo, NY health officials are keeping a close eye on clusters in Orthodox communities

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York City is "particularly concerned" about Yom Kippur this weekend and Sukkot a week later as health officials closely monitor a coronavirus cluster in Brooklyn neighborhoods that contain large numbers of Orthodox Jews.

Health + Hospitals CEO Dr. Mitchell Katz said he is personally comfortable attending indoor religious services "but I would be wearing a mask and I would not be sitting next to someone who was not part of my family."

State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker echoed the concern.

"This is a holiday season, we recognize the significance of the holiday, obviously," Zucker said.

Gov. Cuomo said the city is currently responsible for monitoring what is being called the Ocean Parkway Cluster but if it were to spread and affect city schools, "it's no longer a cluster. A cluster that breaks out is now community spread. If the community spread number went up then it would affect schools. But we are not there," Cuomo said.

The city has been targeting six neighborhoods that have seen recent upticks in coronavirus cases, with an emphasis on expanded testing and contact tracing.

The hyperlocal response is focused on Borough Park, Kew Gardens, Midwood, Edgemere-Far Rockaway, Flatbush, Bensonhurst and Williamsburg.

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The neighborhoods will have increased robocalls and WhatsApp messages, communications with houses of worship, distribution of hand sanitizer and more testing. Sound trucks will broadcast messages in the neighborhoods, as well.

Some tips provided by the health department:

- Large indoor gatherings must be avoided.

- New York State law requires face coverings be worn by everyone older than two-years-old when in public if unable to maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others. Hands must be washed frequently and anyone who is ill must stay home. Anyone who has been exposed to COVID-19 must safely separate from others. Anyone who can't safely separate at home is able to receive accommodations or additional resources from the city.

- All New Yorkers should get tested for COVID-19. Find a testing site or go to or call 311. In addition, please answer the phone if you get a call from NYC Test+Trace, which will be from a phone number beginning with 212-540-XXXX or 212-242-XXXX.

- New Yorkers should not use antibody test results to determine whether to return to school or work. Past infection does not guarantee protection from being infected again. In addition, a test should not be used to stop following quarantine precautions. If someone is identified to be a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19, they must stay home for the required 14 days, regardless of a negative diagnostic or antibody test.

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