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Letter: An open letter to open minds

Dear TLS,

As Rosh Hashana approaches, I am facing the Yom Hadin with a heavier heart than usual. Having watched Klal Yisroel undergo one of the hardest tekufos in recent memory, are there any among us who have been spared the suffering of this terrible virus and it’s aftereffects? So many precious Neshamos have been taken from us. So many Gedolim, Roshei Ha’am, heiligeh Yidden. So many others, their lives Baruch Hashem having been spared, are still suffering terribly each day with the effects of the illness. Unable to eat unassisted, breathing through a machine, on dialysis, in and out of the hospital with cardiac, neurological, renal, digestive, and respiratory illnesses, their conditions belie description.

There are also nebach the silent Korbanos of this Churban. So many children plucked out of school, forced to sit at home for weeks and months on end. So many shuls closed, minyanim missed, chavrusashafts broken, Torah lost. So many Chasanim and Kallos with a minyan metzumtzam present, so many levayos without the proper Kavod Hameis, cancelled Brissim, Sheva Brachos, Aufrufs, Bar Mitzvos, life as we know it shattered into little shards around our feet. So many more who cannot afford to put bread on their table, who must now turn to Tzedaka organizations to make Yom Tov for the first time in their lives.

There is Hishtadlus we can and must do to prevent such devastation from ch”v occurring once again.

I cannot remain silent any longer as I hear the rumors, whispers, and blatant misinformation making their way through our Kehillah. While I am aware that many extremists may never change their minds, I am sure there are thousands of readers who are simply unsure of how to act because It is clear that many have a fundamental misunderstanding of the facts. While of course doctors do not know everything about this virus (as they often don’t), and certainly knew even less in March as they faced it for the very first time, there is much at this point that is known and has been proven.

We don’t want the government to intervene with their long and messy arms and shut our system down. We’ll do everything in our power to fight for people to continue davening and learning, for our children to continue attending school, for society to function as well as possible to the best of our abilities. We won’t let people with an agenda, with nonsensical moral turpitude and beliefs that are antithetical to our most precious values, compel us to follow along their twisted path. We must use the ready tools at our disposal to overcome the obstacles we face and bring nachas ruach to Hakadosh Baruch Hu in everything we do. Whatever happens, we must not let a broken, biased political system dictate to us how we should be running our lives and behaving.

The most important thing is for people to make informed decisions. Once people are aware of all of the ramifications, they should make their own decisions with the guidance of their Rav. There is no one-size-fits-all approach and people must use seichel to make decisions that they feel comfortable with, in regards to their health, the health of their loved ones, and the health of the tzibbur at large.

With all of that in mind, here are ten important facts. The following are undisputed by any doctors, including doctors from our community upon whom we rely to treat us when we are ill. I am not referring to political doctors, I am referring to the ehrliche frum doctors from our very own community who are Yirei Shomayim, Ovdei Hashem, and treat patients from our community every day of the week. They have a far better understanding of the information that comes out than laymen do, greater access to pertinent medical information, and do not pay attention to political and biased media coverage on either side of any issue.

1) Although there were Bechasdei Hashem many months of nearly no cases in our community, the virus has now returned to our community in a second wave, as is often the case with viral epidemics. There were no new infections making their way through the kehillah (community spread) at any time from April until August. That has now changed.

The case load in Lakewood over the last 6 weeks has gone from 3, to 6, to 12, to 25, to 50, to 100, and this week is well over 200. This is only people who are symptomatic and have tested positive on PCR tests which are at least 99.5% accurate. Many are not testing despite showing symptoms, and it is commonly agreed that there are many infections currently undetected in the community.

2) There is no evidence, no reason to believe, nor any indication whatsoever that the virus has changed at all to become either weaker or stronger. In fact, the genome has been sequenced and the strain is identical to the one which was prevalent in our community in February and March.

The reason there have not been many hospitalized yet (al pi derech hateva) is because the virus is not very dangerous to most people who get it, especially if they are younger and in good health. In March, despite an estimated 30,000-40,000 infections in Lakewood, there were only a few hundred hospitalizations and a little more than 100 deaths from our Kehillah. That is obviously a large amount of hospitalizations and far too many deaths to be able to fathom rachmona litzlan but it was only a small fraction of the total case load.

Unfortunately, the New York area which has been hit earlier than Lakewood both this time and last has already suffered at least 10 new hospitalizations and intubations, including Harav Moshe Scheinerman Shlita. Lakewood Hatzalah has once more begun receiving CODE19 calls, after months of radio silence.

3) Once there are a large amount of infections in a community (“a critical mass”), the virus can spread silently to many thousands of vulnerable others in a VERY short time frame.

Humans struggle with the concept of exponential growth, as it can be deceptive. If one person infects 2, 2 infect 4, and then cases can silently double at small numbers for a few weeks without people realizing the extent of the problem. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, 400 becomes 800, which becomes 1,600, 3,200, 6,400, explodes to 12,800, and in only a couple of days, while people are conscious of it, it can become 25,600 and then 51,200 seemingly overnight. It is now clear that this is what happened in March, as COVID-19 spread silently in ever doubling numbers until Purim came along and jump-started the infections from hundreds to thousands, which became tens of thousands over the next week or two.

The vast majority of younger, healthy people who are currently spreading the virus are not going to get a severe case requiring hospitalization (although plenty are sick in bed) just as in March. Thus, the virus may appear benign. A majority of older people will also not require hospitalization. However, al pi derech hateva, once there is a critical mass of infections it will spread to those who are higher risk, even if they are going to great lengths to protect themselves. A significant minority of older people and people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s with health issues will be hospitalized and, chalilah, a small but unacceptably high number can have Chas Vesholom worse occur.

4) It is estimated that around 30% of the population (30,000-40,000 people) of Lakewood had been infected in the first wave. That leaves around 70% of Lakewood (70,000-90,000 people) still vulnerable to infection. This includes some families in which some members of the family have had the virus, some families in which none have had it, and some families in which nearly everyone has had it. This is possible for many reasons, despite many thinking that transmission is nearly inevitable. Different people seem to be less contagious at different levels at different times, and this is probably linked to the size of the viral load that the infected person was originally exposed to. Some studies show that while one has more than a 50% chance of infection from a coworker, they only have a 28% chance of infection from a family member sharing a home with them, although this is counterintuitive. It is also possible that some people are less susceptible to infection.

It is fairly well known at this point that antibodies offer at least some protection for at least some time. It’s unknown for how long exactly. It was hoped by many that perhaps the large amount of people who were no longer susceptible to the virus may have contributed to a “herd immunity” of sorts (which is beyond the scope of this letter), but that is clearly not currently the case. While there may be some immunity in the population which will slow the virus down, population immunity does not help once there are a large amount of infected people in a population. Each infected person offsets a large number of people with antibodies, as each can spread it to many non-immune people directly.

5) It is well known and has been proven that there are a few methods which dramatically lower rates of transmission (preventing people from getting sick in the first place) as well as the size of the viral load (how severe the illness will be and how infectious the patient will become).

The greatest tool at our disposal is to daven and learn Torah. Nothing can be done without Hashem deciding.

The second best tool in the fight is social distancing. No matter the circumstances, the absolute best (and lowest cost) measure is to maintain a distance of between 3-6 feet from others as much as possible. Even indoors, social distancing can dramatically prevent infections and possibly lower the viral load as well if one does become infected.

6) It is now proven and well known that the wearing of a cloth or surgical mask by someone infected with the virus dramatically lowers the transmission of the virus to other people. It is also believed to lower the size of the viral load when indeed the virus is transmitted despite the mask, thus lowering the severity of the illness and the contagion. It is believed by nearly everyone in the medical establishment (this includes your local doctor, not political doctors in the news) but has not yet been proven that the wearing of a cloth or surgical mask also offers some protection for a non-infected against catching the virus from others.

7) It has been proven over many decades of people wearing masks in some capacities (including in health care settings where they wear very restrictive N95 masks for many hours) that wearing a mask poses absolutely no threat to one’s health. There isn’t a single doctor who believes that masks may cause any danger.

There are rumors and speculation being discussed by people whether mask wearing causes people to inhale carbon dioxide or cause other health issues. These rumors are false and unfounded scientifically. You will not be inhaling your own carbon dioxide, as that is the same size as oxygen and goes easily right through the mask. Please ask a doctor if you have any health hesitations. There may be a small percentage of people with other health issues to whom there may be potential health ramifications, but for the overwhelming majority of people (99%+) there will not. Those people generally know who they are, as they are usually severely asthmatic or otherwise unhealthy.

Certainly, many may find mask wearing cumbersome and uncomfortable. This is understandable, and there is little to be done other than finding a more comfortable mask and taking breaks every so often. Of course as any professional who wears a mask for their occupation would tell you it typically gets a lot easier with time (similar to glasses and seatbelts).

8) It has been proven and is well known that around half of transmission occurs from patients who are infected before they show symptoms. This means that even if someone does not have symptoms they can be transmitting the virus currently and may only show symptoms later. There is no way to know whether one will become symptomatic tomorrow or the next day. It is also strongly suspected by the medical establishment but not yet proven that people who remain completely asymptomatic can still transmit the virus.

At least half of the current spread is believed to be from people who are not showing any symptoms at the time.

9) It has been proven that when outdoors, the spread is dramatically reduced, if not nearly eliminated. The virus does not spread easily outdoors, where particles disperse rapidly. Unless one has sustained contact with an infected person in close quarters, you’re unlikely to become infected outdoors.

10) Although there were unfortunately many preventable deaths in the first wave, the coronavirus is still extremely deadly, with nebach many people still dying at very high rates around the world, including Eretz Yisroel and other states in the US.

There is no doubt that the fact that the virus was completely new to doctors, and that the hospitals were being stretched to their limits, had a significant effect on the care patients received in the first wave. It was unknown how to treat patients, and the panic which ensued served further to frighten medical personnel into making decisions that they perhaps would not have made under calmer circumstances. Ventilators and other protocols were sometimes improperly used, visitors were not allowed, and many patients seemingly did not receive proper personalized care, resulting in some horror stories.

With that said, it’s clear that this coronavirus is far deadlier than any other transmittable illness that’s commonly found, and it’s a truly scary machla for those who are most vulnerable to it. There is no comparison between this and the flu or other viruses that people have attempted to compare this to. Make no mistake, while treatment has improved, there still is no cure, and this virus is r”l a steady and stealthy killer. Unfortunately, it is a game of numbers, and an unconscionably high number of vulnerable patients do end up passing away.

If there is something on this list that you disagree with or feel is wrong or problematic, please email this author at frumcovidsurveys@gmail.com or call YOUR doctor to verify for yourself. I will be happy to show you the medical sources for all of my assertions. The abundant amounts of misinformation are legion, so I would be happy to have a nuanced discussion with any reader who still harbors doubts or has heard rumors to the contrary. May the Rofeh Kol Basar give us all the vision and clarity to see through the fog and darkness that clouds our understanding, so we can do whatever Hishtadlus we need to ensure we are doing Hatov Vehayashar Be’einei Hashem.

A Kesiva Vechasima Tova to all,

Tikaseivu Vesichaseimu Lealtar Lechaim Tovim Uleshalom Besifran Shel Tzadikim Gemurim.

A concerned reader.

(TLS welcomes your letters by submitting them to letters@thelakewoodscoop.com)

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There are 70 Comments to "Letter: An open letter to open minds"

  • Lakewood lamdan says:

    Thank you for being a true and balanced voice of reason in our uncertain times.

  • Question says:

    Thank you for taking the time to write this, but why did you not mention all the studies that show taking hydroxy, zinc, and azithromycin at the start of the illness can bring a cure to most patients?

    There are hundred of doctors across American (if not more), not just Dr. Zelenko, who are prescribing this for their patients with excellent results.

    Can you please check out these doctors online and get back to us with your thoughts? Dr. SImone Gold, Dr. Harvey Risch, Dr. Lisa Koche, Dr. George Fareed, Dr. Anthony Cardillo.

    Also please review the studies here and let us know your thoughts: https://c19study.com

    Any study that showed hydroxy was harmful or did not work fell into one of these categories: 1. Zinc was not given 2. Lethal doses of hydroxy were used 3. It was given too late in the illness

    I think everyone reading this personally knows people who used this protocol and had a refuah shelaima, Baruch Hashem, and this included medical doctors. You may have read that at the beginning of this epidemic, doctors stockpiled hydroxy for themselves and their family members.

    PS Hydroxy is not dangerous – the CDC itself says it can be given to babies, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and any age to prevent malaria. It also has been used for over 50 years by lupus and arthritis patients.

    Thank you, and looking forward to hearing back from you.

  • D says:

    Thank you for writing this. Now if only everyone would take your words to heart!!!

  • write a comment says:

    Well written!
    It seriously irks me that six months in, this still has to be said. People actually live their political positions, instead of just reading the facts. Stop caring about republicans and democrats, right and left, elections and shitos. Just follow the credible research and see where the overwhelming body of evidence leads you. Mutations and such are theories, we can’t rely on them over level headed research

  • psak says:

    Another letter writer claiming to be knowledgeable and doesnt sign off with their name. It is funny that you make it sound like the ehrliche doctors in lkwd agree with your letter. i see quite a few of them at shul as well as quite a few prominent rabbonim. They arent walking around staying 6 ft away or wearing a mask. Just BTW

    • FrumCovidSurveys says:

      If you email me I would be happy to reveal my name to you. There are other considerations as to why I haven’t written my name, to conclude that the facts are therefore false isn’t logical.

      I didn’t advocate for any specific position vis a vis masks or social distancing, I only posted the facts. If you believe doctors disagree with the facts, please do ask one what they believe. If they disagree with any of the points I made I would love to be made aware.

    • Simply a Jew says:

      Psak (what a choice of name). I find your comment unnecessary and quite offensive. Why couldn’t you just stick to your “facts”, and make a completely inconsiderate comment on this writer and others?

      Why did you see it fit to say, “Another letter writer claiming to be knowledgeable and doesn’t sign off with their name. It is funny that you make it sound like the Ehrlich doctors in lkwd agree with your letter.”

      Why couldn’t you have the presence of mind and courtesy to just say, “I see quite a few ehrliche doctors at shul as well as quite a few prominent rabbonim. They arent walking around staying 6 ft away or wearing a mask.

    • ? says:

      The writer’s email is clearly written in the letter. Did you even read it?

  • S209 says:

    Kudos for an excellent letter! You brought out the facts without sounding the alarm.

    One thing I’d add- it seems that Simchos (weddings in particular) are a large source of the spread, so it would behoove people to be extra cautious when attending those. Ideally, they would all be moved outdoors, and trimmed down in size.

    The Rabbanim recently wrote as much in their letter to Lakewood homes.

  • Sam says:

    This is quite a lengthy letter but indeed very relevant.
    however as important as it is that everyone wear masks it will never happen in this town until and unless those at the top in enforce it.
    If the roshei yeshiva once & for all listen to the Dr’s and not allow anyone in the batei medrash unless they wear covering then all the rabanim will follow quickly & the issue will be solved.
    To me it is uncomprehending that they don’t do something that’s clearly will save lives. It is time to be honest & open & put the blame where it belongs

    • Jaxonite says:

      Beautiful letter, thank you!

      There is no definite proof about surgical masks protecting the wearer, but there is enough anecdotal evidence to support it (the 2 cruises in March and April with drastically different outcomes).

      There is also a difference between asymptomatic transmission which is a topic of debate and presymptomatic transmission which is clear as day light (just look on your block / Shul etc.)

      Sam – Point well made. The Halacha requires to listen to 2 doctors who are Mekil to eat on Y”K over 100 Doctors, because of the Chumra of Safek Pikuach Nefesh. Yet some of our leaders will listen for the two doctors who argue with the millions of doctors and are Mekil on Safek Pikuach Nefesh instead!
      Yes they should be taken to task, but we live in a town with very complacent people. The lack of leadership is frightening. I don’t know how they could get away with murder, literally, and there was no change of guard. What can we expect then? Of course, the second wave will be approached exactly the same way as the first Hashem Yerachem…

  • Rn says:

    Well written letter that finally speaks the truth. Those who are staying home now that should be in the hospital because their oxygen level is dangerously low are acting dumb. Low oxygen levels will cause permanent organ damage including kidney failure. Yes many died in March but they probably would’ve died had they stayed home!!

  • SY says:

    Thank you thank you thank you.

  • AR says:

    Thank you for this fantastic letter. Finally – someone who appreciates the truth abour saset COVID-19, and understands that a nuanced response which includes both Torah and caution is possible (and necessary!). This should be required reading for each adult in the frum community.

  • S says:

    Very well said! Finally someone that speaks the truth!! Agree with this 1000 times.

  • info says:

    Thanks for the letter.

    Would you mind providing the sources for the medical facts that you state have been proven?

    • FrumCovidSurveys says:

      Absolutely! Please feel free to email me (as dozens have already done) for further or follow up information. I felt the letter was lengthy enough as is without providing sources besides for the one common source- your (or anyone’s) local Lakewood doctor.

  • Berel says:

    I take affront to your insinuation,that it Is merely misinformation or zealotry Which forms the opinion of those who disagree with you, and therefore you present information Which you claim are clear facts to clear the air so to speak. nothing can be further than the truth there are many educated grounded intelligent Divergent opinions Which completely disagree with your ideas and dispute your facts. From the efficacy of social distancing to mouth coverings . I can take issue with each and every point You made.To be brief I will make one point only, we were told the shutdown Was necessary in order to flatten the curve, there is not one graph or a statistic out there which can show that the shutdown Actually flattened the curve(allowing for some delay for those which were already infected but didn’t show any symptoms 14 days max)Each and every graph will show you the infections kept on climbing after the shutdown and then Rather sharply fell. There can be a lot of reasons and many interpretations but it was definitely not what anyone was expecting. Obviously A lot of information being passed on as fact is merely The medical professionals best guess and there are many professional best guesses out there.

    • please says:

      he is not advocating for a shutdown just that we all be vigilant at this time

      • A yid says:

        He is advocating for a lockdown. Don’t kid yourself. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

    • FrumCovidSurveys says:

      Hi Berel.

      I do not believe that misinformation or zealotry forms the opinion of all who disagree with me. Nor do I necessarily believe that zealotry is a bad thing. Nor, in fact, did I disclose in the letter what my opinion actually is.

      If you believe that any (or certainly every) one of my points is up for debate, please do take the opportunity to contact me at the email address provided to discuss further, as many already have. I specifically tried to stay away from opinion, and stick to proven scientific facts, backed up by every doctor I have spoken with.

      I didn’t take a position in the letter on the efficacy of shutdowns. I cannot speak for what you have been told, only for what I have posted.

  • Open but thoughtful says:

    A very well written letter.
    There is no proof that asymptomatic people spread the disease though misafek I agree we should assume so.
    All the scientists have shown is that the virus can be detected around the living space of asymptomatic people. The virus at that point may not be able to infect anyone. Just like it doesn’t infect after 10 days with no symptoms.
    As quoted in “Healthline” from Dr. David Cennimo, Professor at Rutgers..

  • resident says:

    all i can say is THANK YOU. why are people quarantining AFTER they test positive, its too little too late and we always remain 5 steps behind – always spreading the disease too many days before its diagnosed. the only way to reduce the spread is to assume EVERYONE is sick not wait till they are proven sick. social distance! wear a mask! yes, you can do it in shul! you can do it in school! i’ve spoken to people from out of town. the kids get used to it. it becomes second nature….

  • Asher Klein says:

    We will not fall for lockdowns again. The destruction of ruchnios cannot happen again! If you don’t like it…. please please go back into quarantine. But leave us alone.

    • FrumCovidSurveys says:

      Asher- I am with you 100%!

      I don’t want another shutdown, and I don’t think anybody around here does. Ruchniyos is paramount in our lives. Mental health and our economic well being are so important as well. We simply can’t handle it again!

      Do you understand why it’s so vital to have as many facts available as possible? So that B’ezras Hashem we can do our hishtadlus to prevent another shutdown ch”v.

      • write a comment says:

        That is exactly the point!
        If you don’t want a lockdown, be careful before it is necessary. If we stick to the rules, wear masks (that have been proven to help, it is not just conjecture) and keep away from large crowds, we will be able to keep essential instituitions open, and learn Torah the way we are supposed to.

        Being careful promotes learning, being negligent is an attack on learning Torah

  • anon says:

    very clear, thank you

  • Mobile says:

    as is usually the case, “open minds” means someone who will agree to your particular opinion.
    “proven and well known” are used repeatedly for things that are not proven or well known.
    to start off the letter bemoaning the lack of information and then provide facts that are not necessarily facts doesn’t help anyone

    • FrumCovidSurveys says:

      Mobile, I’m sorry to hear you think I provided misinformation and promoted a particular opinion. I tried to stay away from providing opinion and stick to the facts.

      Was there something you feel is in dispute that I presented as fact? Instead of attacking ad hominem without evidence, I’d appreciate a valid intellectual critique. Please feel free to contact me at the email address provided.

      • Mobile says:

        let me be clear. I don’t have a particular opinion. What I do know is is that too many take one side of the argument and run with it. The points that you mentioned are possibly true and also possibly not. There are too many issues that came up over COVID, besides for its devastating effect as an illness. The social effect was great and it lead to much machlokes. There is so much unknown and people don’t like feeling uncertain, so they took a particular opinion and ran with it, oftentimes cutting down other people who disagreed or questioned. I don’t think I have to clarify exactly what i’m talking about. We all know the demeaning and threatening way people (including rabbonim) were treated if they dared question what some people decided to present as the politically-expedient facts.
        That said, when you started your letter bemoaning the lack of facts, I was hoping somehow that you deal with this issue somehow. (how? I don’t know.) Instead, you presented ideas that may very well be true, but are not facts. I am not saying that you are wrong. I clearly do not know as much about this as you do – clearly shown by your letter. However, not everyone agrees with what you are presenting as fact. I spoke to a prominent doctor this week. (no, I will not mention his name as I do not want to be the cause of harassment he might suffer.) He says that those who have very mild or no symptoms are not contagious. Is he right? are you right? I haven’t the foggiest notion, so i will err on the side of caution. But, I do know that you saying to the contrary as if it is undisputed fact is harmful and disingenuous. My response was not an “ad hominem attack” (something a bit hard to do because your letter was anonymous). I wasn’t questioning your facts as they may be true. I was expressing opposition to the dogmatic way in which they were presented.I thought that was clear from my first comment. Now, that I know it wasn’t, I hope it clear from this comment.

        • FrumCovidSurveys says:

          Mobile, thank you for your intelligent and nuanced critique, and I appreciate you clarifying what you disagree with. As I stated in the letter, asymptomatic transmission is not yet proven, but pre-symptomatic transmission is. I find it exceedingly difficult to believe that a medical professional disagrees, when this has been demonstrated in many studies and has been observed locally numerous times as well.

          I suspect (but don’t know) that the doctor did not say what you think he was saying- but I’d love to hear what it was! If he was stating his opinion that asymptomatic patients are not contagious, then by all means he’s entitled (as the jury is still out), but unfortunately there is no practical way to know whether a currently asymptomatic patient will remain that way, or will subsequently develop symptoms.

          While I understand you’d like to protect his privacy, I’d greatly appreciate if you’d contact me at the email address provided so we can discuss further exactly what he said. Thank you!

      • NDM says:

        Citation needed for all the “Facts” you mention in your letter.

        • FrumCovidSurveys says:

          NDM, thank you for your interest! As mentioned in the letter, please feel free to email me for any sources you’d like to see. Also, as mentioned, you may call your doctor at any time to verify things for yourself.

  • Dovid says:

    This letter was a breath of fresh air in comparison to so many other articles I have been subject to in Frum publications. It’s nice to see we still have level headed people and in our community. To all the commentators above – beside for one – hello freinds!

  • Wondering says:

    as long as it is anonymous, it is not credible.

    • FrumCovidSurveys says:

      Wondering, I hope you realize that it is illogical to dispute facts on the basis of credentials. It is irrelevant who says them, as long as they are objective facts.

      Now, if you feel any of the facts presented are in dispute, I’d be happy to discuss them with you. Please feel free to contact me at the email address provided.

  • SB says:

    Why are we the only place not taking this virus seriously? I feel like we are always weeks behind everywhere else! We shut down a week too late the first time around. No one’s saying we need to shut down again but why can’t people wear masks? Do you want to wait till people start getting very sick again? Why are we always the last ones? Look around and you will see that Lakewood is the only place not taking this seriously. Eretz yisroel was smart about it during the first wave and barely lost anyone. Now it is worsening and hard as it is to lockdown they are doing it since it is a wise move and will prevent more people from dying. What will it take for us to learn?? Hopefully not more tragedies!! Please take this well written and thorough article seriously!

    • Seriously? says:

      All that was proven, here and in Eretz Yisroel, is that we can NOT control the virus. The lockdown did not “kill” the virus (which would be the only logical reason for such extreme measures). It didn’t work, so why repeat it? A lockdown is super harmful to most aspects of life- the only reason to do it would be if it would work, and if it would be very temporary.

      • S209 says:

        Seriously, unfortunately when prevalence reaches a certain level there may be people who feel that a “lockdown” is warranted. The best way to ward that off is to proactively take measures to protect people, to preempt a “lockdown”, which we are all rooting hard against!

  • Disputing the "undisputed" doctrine says:

    It’s quite disingenuous to state that all your facts are undisputed by doctors when some of them are very much disputed and some are estimations even by your own admissions.

    The asymptomatic transmission has been disputed and debunked by WHO in june… they said that asymptomatic transmission is actually rare.

    And the pcr tests you claim are 99.5% accurate, have been reported as up to 90% inaccurate (false positives due to set hypersensitivity of tests) by the NY TIMES.

    The cdc website and dr fauci have actually both questioned the effectiveness of the masks…

    This all just goes to show how hard it is to separate fact from opinion in regards to covid as everything is hyper politicized. And just because you subscribe to a certain political camp, please don’t accept their “facts” as facts and disregard those that don’t suit your narrative and brand all those who might not agree with your “facts” as extremists.

    • FrumCovidSurveys says:

      Disputing, please point to facts that I posited as undisputed when they are in dispute.

      1- As I noted in the letter, asymptomatic transmission is not proven but is suspected by the medical community. The WHO never said that asymptomatic transmission is rare. One employee said they haven’t yet found many points of evidence in its favor (and thus more research is needed to prove it or disprove it). That was subsequently retracted. As I said, it is not proven but is suspected.

      2- The NY Times did not say the PCR tests are inaccurate. The report simply claimed that they may be able to detect smaller levels of viral load than are required for transmission. While for the purpose of that article (questioning current testing methods) it was a valid argument, I referenced the tests as a measure of the extent COVID-19 has penetrated our community, of which any level, even below the transmittable threshold, would suffice.

      3- Please point to where the CDC website has questioned the efficacy of masks. The only reference I am aware is of is prior to any COVID-19-specific tests having been conducted. Even then, they did not doubt that masks were effective, only whether the costs (including potentially limiting access to medical workers) outweighed the benefits of communal mask wearing at that point. Again, it was not about the specific efficacy of masks.

      I would be happy to provide sources and discuss any issues you may have at the email address I provided.

  • Loops says:

    I think if we don’t want to have an unmitigated disaster on succos, we need to have as many people wearing masks in shul Rosh Hashana & Yom kippur. What with all the loud davening, prolonged exposure and so many people who may be feeling a little off in self denial insisting on going to shul yomim noraim, we are asking for a problem. Please have rachmanus on fellow yidden amd leave the scientific theories to those who maybe know what they’re talking about.

  • Lkwdscooper says:

    Any claim not backed by a name, signature and case studies are officially invalid. Studies show that if you begin a sentence with “studies show” people are 85% more likely to believe you.

    • FrumCovidSurveys says:

      Lkwdscooper, as I wrote in the letter, I would be more than happy to provide sources for any of my assertions. Simply contact me at the email address I provided.

      I also offered an alternative way to ascertain whether what I was saying was correct, simply call your local doctor and ask.

      I don’t think it’s fair or logical to doubt facts based on a presumed lack of credentials. There can always be a legitimate reason for anonymity as you have shown by withholding your name on this comment.

  • A yid says:

    Please leave me alone. If you are fine ruining your shalom bayis, living at the edge of insanity being cooped up, causing your children with adhd to have the type of regression that I don’t believe can ever be reversed r’l, kol hakavod – lock yourself up.
    But leave me alone. Just leave me alone. I cannot go through the gehinnmom of March/April/May again. I and my family have not close to recovered the damage of those month.
    Not sure if I mentioned – please please leave me alone.
    You may be right in all of your points if you don’t look at any other considerations.. But we don’t live in a vacuum. If you do live in a vacuum, lock yourself up, but LEAVE ME ALONE!!!!!.

    • avraham says:

      Imagine you went for a ride on a cruise ship and someone on the lower deck decided to make a small hole in the hull of the ship.

      • Evie says:

        imagine there is already a hole in the hull, and if the person on the lower deck puts his hand there to stop it, it is likely he will be severely injured, but if he doesn’t, there is only a small chance of the ship capsizing before it reaches safe shores.

    • FrumCovidSurveys says:

      A yid, I’m not sure which part of my letter made you feel threatened, but I’m sorry you feel that way nonetheless. I feel for your plight, and you are not alone. There are many others suffering as well.

      I specifically mentioned and strongly believe that people should do whatever they feel is necessary with the information I provided, so as to B’ezras Hashem avert a potential lockdown ch”v. The repercussions can be terrible, as you no doubt are aware.

      May this disappear “like a miracle” keheref ayin.

  • MUCH MORE IMPORTANT says:

    Very respectful and well written even though I can argue many of the points. MUCH MORE IMPORTANT than masks and social distancing which only slow the spread at best, although that may still be worth something, are checking oxygen levels as soon as someone doesnt feel well continuously and getting treatment within the first 5 – 7 days the latest. HCQ + zinc and sometimes zpack. There are many other methods that can be used to kill the virus successfully. But HCQ is the most well -known.

  • Yoily says:

    A well reasoned and impassioned letter. For those people like commenter number two (Mr. Question): Let’s say that the Hrdroxychloroquine/zinc/azithromycin protocol truly is a “magic” bullet such that when given in time and in the proper dosage we could head off any critical illness caused by Covid infection. Why would you still open yourself up to being infected? We have many excellent treatment modalities for HIV. We actually have a CURE for Hepatitis C. Would you stick yourself with a dirty needle? Would you care for someone without gloves on? No. Because there is inherent risk involved in getting any disease even if there is a valid treatment for it. Mostly because treatments AREN’T magic bullets, and you still may end up severely ill or worse. No one has really calculated when the “proper” time is to admin the Zelenko “protocol”. So let’s not use the excuse of “but there’s a cure” to let our guard down. Additionally, regarding a later commenter’s (Asher Klein) issue with lockdowns imperiling ruchnias. Did the lockdown impede your davening? Or limud Torah? Did you stop putting on tefillin? I’m assuming that you’ve started ordering pepperoni pizza from Domino’s. You haven’t done all that? Then how about we agree that while inconvenient, annoying and yes, financially destructive, (and probably excessive here in the tri-state area) the lockdowns didn’t really destroy our ruchnias. On a last note to Berel, your complaints smack of a petulant child. A kind of “oh yeah?” style of confrontation. The precautions we all took ABSOLUTELY flattened the curve. (Yes, I’m aware the goalpost was moved all the time) If you’ve stepped foot in a hospital during these trying times (as I have, and continually do) you’d recognize this implicitly and not ramble about the myriad of “many educated intelligent Divergent opinions” (not one comma huh?). Many educated, intelligent, and divergent opinions also said that “miasmas” or “bad humors” were responsible for disease and death. (Turns out to have been germs. Who knew??) Suffice it to say, while we can never tell exactly what measures are the most effective, the highest likelihood is that distancing and masks are key to stamping out this virus. These are tried and true infection control procedures. Wash your hands with soap and water, don’t touch your face, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer if you can’t wash immediately, wear a mask when indoors with other people, and maintain your distance. HKBH should send a refuah sheleima to all cholim, and we should be zocheh to see a swift, satisfactory, and complete resolution to this machlah.

  • Confused says:

    If n95 masks protect at least 95 percent of transmissions ,then why don’t the people who don’t want to be infected wear it ?and let the population who’s doesn’t want to wear masks do what they want. Why does it make sense to make “anti maskers” be uncomfortable more than the “maskers “

  • Mark Levin says:

    I wish you would’ve written in a more concise fashion.
    Many of your facts are simply not facts at all!
    1. I take issue with this second wave , there is no second wave but a virus that travels . The more people hide away , the longer people are prolonging exposure to the inevitable. Whether we like it or not, this virus is here to stay and social distancing hasn’t been proven to work. Many many people social distanced and took baths with sanitizer yet they still got the disease. I believe that the more exposed we become to this virus the sooner it will go away.
    2. As for masks , I can attest that they do cause many health issues , I for one really have trouble breathing with them on, not only that get ready for shocker , I was in situations with large groups of people with no masks for long periods of time and guess what ? No one got sick !!
    3. We cannot place ourselves in a plastic bubble. It’s just an impossibility!
    This virus is obviously a Gezeira Min Hashomayim , and all the PPE in the world will do nothing! It’s Teshuva HaShem wants from is and nothing else.

    • FrumCovidSurveys says:

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment! I really love your show.

      1- You make a fair point that the virus spreads easily. What approach we should be taking I cannot decide for anyone, but I think it’s beneficial for everyone to have access to basic information. As you said, of course distancing is effective, although you may disagree with whether it’s warranted. I withheld my opinion.

      2- I do not want to minimize your obvious discomfort wearing a mask. Certainly it is harder for some than for others. However, discomfort is not generally considered a health risk, and for the vast majority of people, there are no health risks associated with regular mask usage.

      I hope you understand that having been in situations with large groups with no masks but nobody having got sick from that exposure is completely meaningless. More information is needed. When was this? Was there someone infectious present? You said yourself you think everyone getting the virus is inevitable, so this seems slightly contradictory.

      3- You’re right, it’s virtually impossible to eliminate all risk. Baruch Hashem we do have some tools that are proven safe and effective that we can utilize as our hishtadlus, as decided by the poskim and manhigim we turn to for advice.

      Everything is from Shamayim (except for tzinim pachim), and certainly Teshuva is the order of the day. It is still possible that hishtadlus is in order as well.

  • new arrival says:

    Excellent letter. And we are bringing on a second wave by our own behavior. We should all be concerned with protecting others despite the inconveniences.

  • Chaim says:

    If everyone would just practice extreme social distancing it should keep everyone safe. Instead of crowding into urgent cares to get tested just stay home as much as possible. If you have it you are spreading it to others and if you didn’t now you do. And now you are bringing it home with you. What is wrong with you?? You CAN prevent the spread. Just do the right thing.
    Shana Tova to all

  • Dovid says:

    Can you imagine what Simchas Torah can do to us? All of Klal Yisroel going to the equivalent of two large weddings in as many days. #purim2.0

  • Just saying something is a fact.... says:

    Dear letter writer… just saying these are facts, does not make what is to follow that statement factual. There are no known facts vis a vis Covid period end of discussion. The numbers you cite are pretty useless because they don’t take into account if the same person was tested twice and tested positive two times for instance… there are countless similar examples as well as countless “statistics” that are changing including the cdc Dramatically reducing their own number of Deaths from Covid. Therefore what you present in your letter is not and can not be facts they are the opinion of one or several people right, wrong or indifferent but again NOT FACTS. There has not been years of scientific research rather wild conjecture in the face of mass hysteria. First off everyone needs to calm down

    • FrumCovidSurveys says:

      Just saying something, you’re absolutely right that merely saying something is a fact does not make it so, and it’s good you pointed that out. You’re also right that there are fewer details currently known about COVID-19 than many other diseases that we have had longer periods to study.

      Where we diverge is that the facts I presented are indeed proven, to the best that I am aware. If you would like sources, or believe differently, please feel free to contact me at the email address I provided. Better yet, call your personal doctor to verify for yourself! It’s always best to confirm details with a physician when possible.

      I am not sure which facts that I presented you specifically disagree with, but all are backed up by rigorous scientific studies. At this point there have been thousands of effective studies done which has cleared the air somewhat in the medical community, although certainly not enough to be fully comfortable.

  • Simple says:

    Friends, its simple. Lakewood ignored the virus when it started on the west coast and made its way to NY. No one is advicating a lock down, what is being advocated is basic common sense precautions.
    Let me say this simply, to act as if the virus is No Longer around is foolish.
    For Ex, The Law is a person cannot smoke inside buildings, because the Individual Right To Smoke is not Greater Than the General Public’s Right to Not Be Exposed to Smoke.
    If I am sitting in a restaurant, and you are at the table next to me, you have No Right to light a cigarette and pollute my table with smoke.
    If you Knew you had a Chance of infecting a Loved One with a disease, you would protect them.
    Why do many Lakewood not take simple precautions to protect those around them?
    Why do those who had COVID think they cannot get it again? Cannot a person get the Flu twice? COVID is worse and more bizarre acting than any Flu.
    Please just take simple precautions. Like wear a seat belt in a car or a helmet when you ride a bike.

  • Pony says:

    Thank you so much for such a well written and informative letter. It’s so nice to see someone be able to provide facts and not be demeaning and provocative.

    One point I’d like to make. To all those that agree with the sentiments of this letter but feel funny wearing a mask in shul because others are not doing so, please keep the following in mind. If you wear a mask, others may wear a mask, which in turn can lead to many many others wearing masks, which in turn will likely save lives. Peer pressure is a herd thing to go against but please keep in mind, if you believe that the ratzon Hashem is to wear a mask and help others feel more comfortable doing so, it far more outweighs any peer pressure considerations.

  • Concerned lakewooder says:

    Thanks for your extremely well written and highly informative article and for your valiant efforts to protect our community! I think our community would be well served to follow your advice and prevent another major breakout. Tizkeh lmitzvos.

  • Miriam says:

    Remember those people who told us FACT that porch minyanim are killing everyone. Anyone who davens on their porch is a murderer. That fact changed and many will too.

    PLEASE MAKE SURE MY FULL NOT WAS NOT ON THE PREVIOUS COMMENT.

    • FrumCovidSurveys says:

      Miriam, this writer does not recall ever maintaining such a position. Is there a fact that I wrote that you specifically have trouble believing?

      • Miriam says:

        My point is at this point no one knows. Everything changes month to month. Nothing against your facts per se.

  • chaim says:

    Loved the letter. One thing I wish though was explained. How does it work scientifically that there was many positives all along everywhere but no one getting sick for the last four months and no all of a sudden people are getting sick from the positive tests more than before. Or are there more positives now than before despite failure to wear masks for quite a while now. Why – what changed?

    • FrumCovidSurveys says:

      Chaim, while I do not have all of the answers, it’s important to know that for a period of many months there were actually virtually no spreading cases in Lakewood. There were a few positive tests here and there but they were largely infected elsewhere, and by the time they were detected in Lakewood were likely not contagious.

      This is the first time we as a community have experienced significant spread of the virus since the period immediately after Pesach.

  • Disputing the "undisputed" doctrine says:

    @ frumcovidsurveys

    If you yourself state that something is SUSPECTED by WHO but not proven, that is by definition not a FACT buta supposition. And that is what I was taking issue with … your stating your opinions on various covid positions as facts.

    And WHO did in fact rule out asymptomatic transmission (not to be confused with pre-symptomatic transmission).

    Similarly, stating that pcr tests are 99% accurate is by definition not a fact as you seem to agree that a major portion of those “accurate” positive results are actually too weak to cause any symptoms or be contagious. So again, by definition, it is NOT a fact that 99% of pcr tests are accurate, but actually, a false piece of information otherwise known as fake news these days 😄

    • FrumCovidSurveys says:

      Disputing, correct, which is why that was not one of the facts, but rather a supposition. I did not relay my opinion, but informed what the general scientific consensus is.

      The WHO did not rule out asymptomatic transmission, but one employee did issue a statement that it appears to be rare, which was subsequently retracted.

      The PCR tests are 99.5% accurate in detecting the presence of COVID-19 particles.

      While there might be legitimate concerns if positive tests are highly sensitive, to the point that they are including patients who do not have sufficient levels to be transmitting illness, this does not mean that the tests are inaccurate. Please do not be dishonest. When trying to determine the prevalence of infection in a community, these tests are certainly as accurate as they are claimed to be.

  • Bob Kauman says:

    Thanks for taking the time to write such a SMART letter!