It has been quite a while since I have updated you on the ”Covid-19
experience” that we are going through.
Today is a banner day in New York City as we open for Phase II. There
is also been much discussion at the temple’s board level, about when
and how to reopen the temple safely. Gilley, the board and I have set
out to determine the standards that we will use to allow for safe
return of our congregation for both weekly prayer, and the high holy
holidays which will be upon us sooner than we think.
To begin with, in order to appropriately socially distance, our
beautiful main sanctuary will once again become the area for prayer.
With the number of attendees we have and its large seating capacity,
the main sanctuary will enable us to assign individuals, families, and
groups to seating that will provide safety and a comfortable distance
for prayer and group interaction. We are in the process of determining
whether to assign seats to you based on the size of your group and
other important considerations including vision, hearing and ability
to walk. We feel that because of the excellent ventilation and
environmental control, this will be the most comfortable and healthy
place to once again enjoy services.
Entering the synagogue will take on a new meaning. Based on current
CDC/WHO guidelines we are going to develop a method of screening our
congregation to make sure that they are safe for themselves and for
fellow congregants. Although the plan is not fully drafted yet, one
can be assured that testing for fever with a TOUCHLESS OR THERMALSCAN
Thermometer, as well as some simple questions about the present state
of your health will be asked upon entry to the Shul. We want you to
understand and be sure that we are doing this in order to provide the
safest possible environment in our Temple. Clearly, everyone is
welcomed in our synagogue day and night, but we do have to take
appropriate precautions; in fact, it is our Ethical and Moral duty to
make sure that we are not partners in spreading this dreadful virus.
Please do not look at this as an invasion of your privacy, or an
abolition of your constitutional right to gather in a group. We are
just trying to ensure the health and safety of our congregation!
Details of the plan will be sent to you as soon as they are completely
drafted. Please accept the fact that for now, our world needs to
change to protect ourselves and those we care about.
Let us take a moment to talk about Covid testing and Covid antibodies.
The Covid nasal swab that is being used presently is only 70%
accurate. What that means is nearly 1/3 of the time the test will
show negative and the patient could be sick with the virus. It is
always better to have a Covid swab done in either a government (city
or state run) testing facility or in a hospital testing facility. The
test is very fragile in that it depends on the actual amount of “viral
load” meaning how much actual virus is represented in your nasal
passages, as well as the skill of the individual whose job it is to
swab and get the sample from the nasal passages. Even a highly
trained technician can swab your nose and miss the virus. This is
less likely to happen in a hospital system than it is in a walk-in
urgent care center. Please choose wisely.
What about antibody testing? Here is a quick synopsis of what that
is. When a foreign substance, like a virus or bacteria, attacks your
body, your immune system immediately gets working to fight it off. To
do this, it creates antibodies to stop the invading organism. We can
now measure those antibodies and determine whether you have the active
disease, whether you have been exposed, or have already fought it off
and are left with some immunity. The IgM antibody when elevated,
shows that the disease is active now or acutely. Many labs do an IgA
antibody which shows possible exposure to the virus. The IgG antibody
is the one that we hope will confer some amount of immunity to future
infections with the coronavirus. These numbers, which are determined
by a blood test, can usually be drawn in any doctor’s office or by
going to a laboratory.
The problem is, since the Covid 19 virus is a completely new entity,
we have absolutely no idea what having an elevated level of IgG could
mean. The possibilities are-once you have a level of IgG you can
never get the virus again, or if you get it again the infection will
be weaker and less problematic, or, the worst case scenario, is that
having a high level of IgG means absolutely nothing. It will take at
least 1-2 passes of this virus in the future for us to know which of
these is the fact.
That having been said, this virus is not gone just because the weather
is beautiful and were all scratching at the door to go back to a
normal life. We still must take proper precautions.
Maintain social distancing
2. Always wear a mask when outside the house.
You will read much about recommendations that only mention wearing the
mask when you are near others, and if you are alone you do not need
to. The reason surgeons do not get patients sick during an operation,
is because they wear masks when they operate. We in healthcare stay
protected from patient’s illnesses by wearing masks.
3. Wash your hands frequently with soap and
water or use antibacterial liquid such as Purel. Please know that
soap and water kill this virus as well as any other substance.
4. Never, ever, ever, ever ingest or inject into
your body any cleaners or disinfectants. That is sheer lunacy!!
5. As I have told you on many occasions,
hydroxychloroquine in combination with Zithromax may be the
president’s favorite combination, but it has never been shown to do
anything positive in the coronavirus, and in fact has been proven in
certain circumstances to damage healthy hearts. No matter how
tempting it might be, it does not work. Do not use it!
I will be back to you in the coming days with more information about
the above-mentioned matters. Until then, please take care of yourself
and others, stay safe and enjoy a beautiful summer in whatever ways
To your health!
Warren J. Wexelman, MD