Three Jewish day schools in the New York City area announced Tuesday that they would be closed after a member of the New Rochelle Jewish community was diagnosed with the coronavirus, becoming the second confirmed case of the virus in New York. The man’s son is a student at Yeshiva University.
The SAR Academy and High School in the Riverdale section of the Bronx borough of New York City, as well as the Westchester Day School and Westchester Torah Academy in Westchester County, announced that they would be closed on March 3.
"We are writing to inform you that there is a suspected case of coronavirus in our community," the school wrote in an email signed by the principal of SAR, Rabbi Binyamin Krauss. "We are in touch with the New York City Department of Health and are following their guidelines."
The co-educational school, which describes itself as "modern Orthodox," informed parents that as of Tuesday, the closure was only for "precautionary" reasons and that parents should "remain calm."Westchester County Health Commissioner Dr. Sherlita Amler directed the Young Israel of New Rochelle to halt all services on Tuesday until further notice due to the possibility of COVID-19 exposure connected to the man who tested positive today. Congregants who were at services at the synagogue on February 22 or at a funeral and bat mitzvah at the synagogue on February 23 must quarantine themselves until March 8 at the very earliest.
Those in quarantine "should not go to work, attend school, go shopping or attend religious services or gatherings anywhere and should have no guests, visitors or staff in their homes during this period," stated Amler. "Should anyone develop cough, fever, or shortness of breath, call your healthcare provider, tell them about your exposure and await further instructions before going to a healthcare facility so that appropriate precautions can be taken."
Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference on Tuesday that a man who lives in the New York suburb and works in Manhattan tested positive for the novel coronavirus, adding that the 50-year-old man had an underlying respiratory illness and is hospitalized. He added that the patient had not traveled to countries considered to be major locations of the outbreak, but had visited Miami recently.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Tuesday that a man in his 50’s from Westchester County who works at a small law firm in midtown Manhattan had been diagnosed with the coronavirus after having respiratory issues for the past month that worsened in the past few days. The man is currently hospitalized in serious condition at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia.
The mayor added that the man had not traveled recently, meaning that this is most likely a case of “community spread.” The man had been in Miami in recent months.
De Blasio stressed that for the vast majority of those who are infected, the virus feels like the common cold or the flu, but that for some it can cause life threatening complications. The mayor added that prolonged contact is required for the virus to spread.
Two of the man’s sons live in the New York City area and both are in quarantine at their home and are being tested. One of his sons attends SARS, but has not shown any symptoms. His other son attends a local university and has shown symptoms. YU announced on Tuesday that one of the man’s sons is an undergraduate student at the university. The student has not been on campus since Thursday, February 27 and YU is working with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and the Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response to take all necessary precautions. Another student at its Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law has quarantined himself.
Yeshiva World News reported that the community was asked to pray for Eliezer Yitzchok ben Shifra.
The previous day, New York state confirmed that a 39-year-old woman who had traveled to Iran tested positive for coronavirus. She is currently at home in quarantine. Ten other people have been tested. Eight of the tests came back negative. One test, the husband of the woman who had traveled to Iran, is pending.
Last week, Cuomo discussed New York's preparations for the coronavirus during a news conference at the state capitol. He said the city was racing to keep pace with the rapidly evolving public health response to the virus. He noted that some US colleges had begun restricting or suspending study-abroad programs in countries such as Italy and South Korea, and that K-12 schools were also considering appropriate measures to help prevent the virus from spreading among students.
Nine people have died so far from the novel coronavirus in Washington state. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists 108 confirmed and presumed cases of coronavirus in at least a dozen states, nearly half of them patients who were repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise liner that had been quarantined in Japan. The US announced this week that up to a million people could be tested for the virus by the end of the week.
An Israeli infectious disease expert told Kan radio on Tuesday that the country might consider placing American travellers under a 14-day quarantine if the virus continues to spread unabated throughout the US.
Reuters contributed to this report.