The ruling has just been handed down by the judge: There will be no overnight summer camps in NY this summer.
The attorney representing the camps, Mr Avi Schick gave the following statement to YWN:
“We are all incredibly disappointed that the District Court declined to enjoin Governor Cuomo’s prohibition of sleepaway camp. We continue to believe that the overnight camp environment is better for our children both physically and spiritually. The camp directors worked hard to create plans that would ensure the safety of all campers.
The Court itself acknowledged “after carefully considering the matter, the Court finds that Plaintiffs have sufficiently demonstrated irreparable harm . . . Contrary to Defendant’s argument, Defendant’s executive orders have directly limited Plaintiffs Free Exercise rights under the First Amendment by barring overnight camps for the summer of 2020.” The Court also recognized that “Jewish overnight camps would have rigorous training on health and safety protocols developed from physicians and health policy professionals.”
That should have been more than enough to prevail. And in normal times it would have been enough. These are not normal times. The Court expressed a concern that if it ruled in our favor that ruling would “apply to all overnight camps throughout the state, which may not have the appropriate resources. Overnight camps are also generally a significant distance away from hospitals and located in remote areas with limited healthcare access . . . In total, Sullivan County has approximately 169 licensed [hospital] bed and thirteen intensive-care-unit beds.”
To the thousands of parents and tens of thousands of children who are impacted by today’s decision, we can only say that we will continue to do what we can to advocate for your rights.”
SOME QUOTES FROM THE RULING:
Although Plaintiffs argue that Jewish overnight camps would have rigorous training on health and safety protocols developed from physicians and health policy professionals (Dkt. No. 7, Attach 2, at 15-16), Defendant’s executive orders apply to all overnight camps throughout the state, which may not have the appropriate resources. Overnight camps are also generally a significant distance away from hospitals and located in remote areas with limited healthcare access. (Dkt. No. 25, Attach. 1 at ⁋⁋ 15, 22.) Due to the general remoteness of overnight camps, a sudden outbreak would put great strain on healthcare infrastructure and resources of smaller rural hospitals, which have significantly fewer ICU beds as compared to more urban areas. (Id, at ⁋ 15.)
For example, Defendant cites to the circumstances in Sullivan County, located in the Catskills region of New York State, where Defendant estimates that approximately sixty-two percent of the Jewish overnight camps are located. (Dkt. No. 25, Attach. 1, at ⁋⁋ 9- 14.) According to Defendant, Sullivan County has only one hospital, with two locations throughout the entire county, in addition to ten Article 28 diagnostic treatment centers and hospital extension clinic sites. (Id. at 10, 13.) In total, Sullivan County has approximately 169 Case 1:20-cv-00687-GTS-DJS Document 28 Filed 07/06/20 Page 28 of 43 29 licensed beds, thirteen intensive-care-unit beds, and fifteen certified beds that can provide both acute and subacute rehabilitation services. (Id. at 11-12.) At oral argument, Plaintiffs explained that in a usual summer, approximately forty-two thousand campers attended approximately fifty to sixty Jewish overnight camps located in New York State. (Hearing Transcript.) Although a significant drop off in these numbers is expected due to a truncated summer and concerns over the COVID-19 virus (Hearing Transcript), should an outbreak occur at the camps, the situation could overrun the hospitals within Sullivan County and require hundreds of individual children to be quarantined at the individual camps, potentially hundreds of miles away from their families.
Agudath Israel of America expressed its deep disappointment with Chief U.S. District Judge, Glenn Suddaby’s ruling to keep New York State overnight camps closed this summer.
Rabbi Yeruchim Silber, Agudah’s New York Government Relations Director, said, “The impact on children is devastating. Instead of looking forward to a summer of growth, filled with learning experiences and preparation for an upcoming school year, many children of our community will now be forced to endure a continuation of the long-lasting lockdowns imposed by the State Government.”
Developing story – refresh for updates.