When do we close the Schools and Shuls?

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    The CDC and others have finally stayed the obvious: it is not a question of if the new Coronavirus will come to America, but when. Although 80% of Coronavirus cases pass without serious incident, 20% are considered “severe” and may require hospitalization, and approximately 2% of cases result in death. While that might not sound like a lot, if half the world gets sick (which is unfortunately fairly likely) we can expect to lose 1% of the world’s population. There currently about 77 billion people in the world, so we could be looking at 77 million deaths in the next 12 months. To put that in perspective, that’s about how many people died in the six years of WWII.

    The Coronavirus has an approximate incubation period of 14 days. That means it takes two weeks from the time a person gets infected until they begin to have symptoms of the sickness. But during those 14 days they are contagious, so they can still spread the sickness to others. By the time a victim shows symptoms and is counted in the official statistics, they are likely to have spread the sickness to others, and those others are likely to have infected other people themselves. The official count of the sick will always be two full waves (and weeks) behind.

    Has the time come to shut down our schools, replacing them with some sort of video interaction? Is Davening with a minyan still a good idea? And if you don’t support actions such as these now, what would you have to see to convince you that the time has come?


    When we are told too.


    I believe you meant to write 7.7 billion people in the world. Closer to 8 billion I would guess.

    But your 77 million number is still correct, ASSUMING 1/2 the world ch”v gets sick. Perhaps there are more people with strong immune systems, or those isolated enough to not get sick? From where did you take the 50% infection rate?

    In any case as Yidden, especially in Adar, we shouldn’t be delving in worst case scenarios.


    Uh, no, MW13, there are not ’77 billion people’s in the world. Redo your math.


    Just realize that if everyone stayed home the economy would stop and there would be no food in the stores and there would be riots killing more people than any epidemic.


    There are no reliable figures from China since the government seems to be inclined to deceive, and apparently also believes its own lies. If the Chinese are to be believed, it is a severe cold with low mortality (i.e. not even close to the 1918 influenza). Cutting back on foreign trade and blocking both immigrants and foreign tourists (things Trump is good at) can reduce the impact. If the government decides to close schools (and sports, and theaters, and malls), we can go along with them, and thereby let them decide. Given the US if a net exporter of food and fuel, the US won’t face critical shortages of necessities

    Avram in MD


    “While that might not sound like a lot, if half the world gets sick (which is unfortunately fairly likely) we can expect to lose 1% of the world’s population.”

    I think it’s highly unlikely that the denominator in these fatality rate estimates is known, so it’s extremely premature to be making these kinds of extrapolations.


    Based on what R’ Menachem Mannes Mandel (menahel Yeshiva of Brooklyn) taught us when an issue arose in 1974 , he will ask a shailoh of a gadol and follow that psak. I would think the same still applies.


    The flu kills between 20K and 80K a year in America (CDC website)
    should we close the schools all flu season?


    Maybe all schools should be closed all the time.


    There are ZERO deaths in China for 0-9 years olds. However, children can pass the virus on to adults.

    We must go to the extreme to protect older people. And not getting infected yourself protects them.

    700 people got infected on the Diamond Princess cruise. So far 4 people died – all aged in the 80s.

    Elderly should avoid visitors and limit contact. Those with diabetes/heart disease appear more susceptible.


    I agree with Dayeinu who said “Elderly should avoid visitors and limit contact…”

    In particular, that could mean that elderly should not go to a hotel for Pesach.


    If schools are closed parents would have to stay home to watch them. But we need people to work in order to survive. You need truckers to bring food supplies to the stores, and people to stock the shelves, police, to maintain order, medical staff to maintain hospitals otherwise there will be riots.

    The power of prayer and of learning will protect us so I don’t think closing schools or houses of worship will help reduce the epidemic.

    Perhaps this epidemic came because how we mistreated the antivaxers. Just as we expelled them from schools so too we are being quarantined from society.

    🍫Syag Lchochma

    “Perhaps this epidemic came because how we mistreated the antivaxers. Just as we expelled them from schools so too we are being quarantined from society.”

    That’s an interesting perspective. That we mistreated the antivaxers. I’m not sure that asking people to respect the health of the public is mistreatment.
    I did think of that same correlation, though in a different way. I was thinking that now that the general public has, r”l, been exposed to a highly contagious and potentially life threatening virus, all those anti vaxxers will see how we are willing to abide by the quarantines and precautions that we asked them to abide by without instigating a total Chillul Hashem or mass epidemic ch”v.


    While I am 100% on Syag’s side on the Anti Vaxx debate, those last two comments (Abba_S and Syag’s response) demonstrate the futility of most of these discussions. Two people with opposite views see the exact same incident, and draw conclusions of simanim from Shomayim that are diametrically opposed to each other, each supporting his or her own preconceived notion on the topic at hand.

    No one is changing anyone’s mind in these debates, no matter how wonderful the “new” proofs seem to be to each of us, on either side.

    🍫Syag Lchochma

    Midwesterner – exactly, which is the problem with everything people try to use as a ‘proof’.
    I didn’t think it was a siman from Shamayim, as much as I just had a fleeting thought of it being an opportunity to prove ourselves. I try to apply meaning to everything Hashem sends our way but don’t ch”v assume I *know* the meaning. I just try to be cognizant of possible messages and opportunities to do His ratzon and be mekadesh His Shem.


    see video/beracha from Rav Gamliel Rabinowitz, shlita. [daven 3 times daily with a minan and don’t talk in shul.]


    See posuk in Chumash, V’rapo yerapeh. See drasha in Chazal, Mikan shenitna reshus l’rofeh lerapos.


    One Shul and three yeshiva are already closed in NY by orders of the Dept. of Health


    Abba_s: Yes but they are all linked to a diagnosis of covid-19 of a specific individual and members of his family who were exposed to him during the incubation period and he or his children either went to the shul or the schools involved.


    Lowerourtuition Covid is contagious but you have to weigh the benefits of learning and davening verses the chance of dying from Covid-19. For all you know thousands or even millions including you, have it but its so mild they don’t realize they have it. Even if you don’t have it are you staying home and not going to work. How will you get food and water if you don’t go outside to shop. The water maybe contaminated.

    You must believe in G-d and if you do and pray to him he will protect you. How can you cross the street maybe a car will come and hit you. You believe the car will yield the right of way to you but not that G-d will protect you?

    Do you really think that if shuls close everyone will daven 3 times a day. Or that thousand of kids will stay home and not play out in the street?

    anonymous Jew

    Shuls in Nassau County on Long Island ( Cedarhurst, West Hempstead , Oceanside, Great Neck and most, but not all in Woodmere, Hewlett, Lawrence and Inwood) were closed indefinitely as of this past Friday. This action was taken in consultation with gedolim and Rabbi Aaron Glatt. Rabbi Glatt, in addition to being a talmid chochom in his own right is also the chief of medicine and infectious disease at Mount Sinai South Shore Hospital in Oceanside.


    Abba_S: I have heard about closures in Far Rockaway based upon the psak of R’ Dovid Feinstein SHLITA. The OP asked a questionn and various VAAD’s have made the hard decision.


    “verses the chance of dying from Covid-19”

    that is not what needs to be weighed.
    THe chance of dying from covid-19 is (relatively) small. for a younger healthy person the chance is almost negligible.
    The problem is overwhelming the healthcare system .

    If the virus spreads unchecked lets say half the people in NYC get it. (one of the lower estimates)
    There are 8 million people, that means 4 million people get it.

    Of those the vast majority (80%) don’t even realize they have it or have very mild symptoms.
    That means 800,000 people get fairly sick . Lets say a 10th of them are very sick and need hospitalization.
    that’s 80,000 people .
    There are about 50,000 hospital beds in NYC (and many of those are obviously being used by those already there or who have other acute conditions unrelated to Corona, Heart attacks, strokes infections etc)
    THAT is the problem.
    Not to mention that Of those who get very sick from corono-virus many need ICUs or vent. There are about 3,200 ICU beds and 5,000 vents in the city . IF 80,000 people show up w/ respiratory issues many needing vents and there are 5000 vents (many already being used) hopefully you see the catastrophe.

    The key is to slow the spread yes half the city might still get it, but not at once, spread out over time Most will be asymptomatic or close to it. but the reality few who get very sick will have beds, vents, not to mention doctors to take care of them .

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