A letter from your neighborhood doctor
A letter from your neighborhood doctor

This is your neighborhood Doctor, Ellie Bennett, with a sobering update.

When I emailed you all five days ago, there were 50 people admitted to my hospital with confirmed pneumonia and low oxygen. There are now well over 200!!

The sick include a friend who is a healthcare worker who went into cardiac arrest over the weekend.

Many others, YOUR NEIGHBORS, are among the patients with pneumonia and hypoxemia – these are my friends that are admitted and barely hanging on.

Hundreds more in our neighborhood have tested positive but are not ‘sick enough’ to require hospitalization.

And lest you think it’s all “old people”, this week we intubated a 36 year old for a pneumonia so bad on x-ray, that I usually only see it on drowning victims. Yes, that what they all look like – Pneumonia all over the lungs.

And essentially, we’re Davening and “hoping” that we can keep people alive long enough to get better on their own. There are some promising medicines, but nothing very reassuring thus far.

I have received thousands of phone calls, text messages and emails about the best way for the average person to combat this virus. And my opinion, and the unequivocal opinion of all the leading infectious disease experts, is the same.

Social Distancing is the only way to break the cycle and spread.

It is my medical opinion that nobody should be together for the upcoming Pesach holiday.

I understand that this is terribly disappointing for many.
And this seems to be the antithesis of the holiday where we invite guests.
‘Kol Dichfin Yasay ViYechol.
All who are hungry are invited to eat’.

But I am, in the strongest terms possible, advising all my patients and friends to cancel any plans you may have.
Do NOT travel and spread the virus outside the neighborhood.
Do NOT travel and bring back an increase in the virus to our neighborhood.
Do NOT meet friends for the sedorim.
Do NOT meet your siblings and have cousins play together.
Do NOT have the friends on your block play together.

Carry these rules straight through chol hamoed!

It makes no difference if you have shown symptoms or not shown symptoms. This is regardless of if you have quarantined for 21 days.

I get that this may be unpopular, and yet I state it firmly believing that it is the only way to save lives. Shut in your homes. Only venture out to get food, and try to minimize your risk as much as possible when you must leave. There will always be people who may feel that they fall under extraordinary exceptions and if so consult your local rabbi.

But my medical opinion is crystal clear. Social distancing is the only way we are going to save lives.

I wish everyone a happy holiday.

B’ezras Hashem, I look forward to seeing you all in the streets again soon.

L’shana Haba B’Yirushalayim
Edward ( Ellie) Bennett, MD FACEP

Dr. Bennett is a Board Certified Emergency Room Physician, NY Hospital of Queens, and also private practice in Queens. His previous letter appeared on Yeshiva World News.