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The COVID-19 Diaries day 9

03/30/2020 11:42:38 PM

Mar30

יום שני, ה' בניסן, תש"פ
Monday, March 30, 2020

Just like that, plans change.

All it took was the results from the COVID-19 tests to change our Pesach plans. Out of three boys tested two came out positive. Maybe they didn’t stick the spaghetti far enough down the third one’s nose.
So now we are all in quarantine. Dinner shopping was done by a righteous friend and delivered to our door.

We have never made Pesach, we have no dishes, no pots, nothing. Fortunately, we do have a lot of things at my in-laws, which is just a 5 minute drive away. Unfortunately, I’m not legally allowed to drive there to retrieve them. Fortunately, my mother-in-law can bring them over. Unfortunately, we’re pretty sure she also has the virus and is scheduled to be tested tomorrow. So... it’s getting tricky.

This morning, before we got back the test results, I had the opportunity to drive and run an errand. So I decided that I would listen to the entirety of the shiur I was upset about yesterday. Long ago I learned that you have to put your feelings aside and listen to what the other person is saying, and fully understand it before you can honestly respond. There is one thing that we are assuming, but perhaps will never know with certainty: Was all of our social distancing and quarantining etc. successful in slowing the spread? Did we save lives? Or, would the outcome have been identical no matter what?

We assume from the tragic numbers of dead in Italy and Spain, that it could be much worse than it is and that we were successful. However, as a personal anecdote, I was rather surprised to discover that two of my boys had COVID-19 and that the “minor cold” that had gone around my house was in all likelihood the coronavirus. My stomach has been bothering me, which I attributed to eating habits, but now I am being told that it is more likely a symptom of COVID-19. I know so many people at this point that are sick or tested positive, but I NEVER would have tested my boys were it not for our Pesach cheshbon (discussed in yesterday’s post). So wait a minute, does the whole world already have it?!

Answers may come in retrospect, or they may not. I read one fascinating article that suggested a pattern for the cycle of the disease (https://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Spread-of-COVID-19-begins-to-show-pattern-of-4-8-week-eruption-cycle-622035) and I am so curious to see if his reading of the stats is correct. “Ignoring both tails of the graph, it indicates that this bell's life cycle is around six to eight weeks, with its peak appearing after about two to four weeks from the time when incidents begin to occur at a substantial rate.” According to that, the peak in NY should be less than a week or two away, but not more than that. It would then decline and be basically done by the beginning of May.
I believe the only country that is sticking to allowing the virus to run its course is Brazil. “Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has staked out the most deliberately dismissive position of any major world leader, calling the pandemic a momentary, minor problem and saying strong measures to contain it are unnecessary.” (https://www.nbcchicago.com/news/coronavirus/brazils-bolsonaro-makes-life-or-death-coronavirus-gamble/2246533/) One wonders how the numbers will compare.
On the other hand, a New York Times article claims that early restrictions in Seattle, seem to show significant slowing down of the spread. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/29/us/seattle-washington-state-coronavirus-transmission-rate.html.

As some sort of concrete conclusion to today’s ramblings - whatever the truth is regarding the efficacy of the worldwide shutdown, I think it is important to recognize the positivity in the world-wide statement that people’s lives are more important than anything else. While that may seem obvious, it is not. If someone wants to damage themselves, as long as they don’t damage anyone else without consent, contemporary “morals” are fine with that. Life is not as important as quality of life, is a modern mantra, stated outright or not. As a Rabbi I can say confidently and definitively, “that just isn’t true”. God, as He has expressed Himself in the Torah, in it’s broadest sense, values life, even the “lowest physical quality” therein as paramount, and the world has just demonstrated their commitment to that truth.

  4 Cheshvan 5781