NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The New York City Department of Health is warning of rising coronavirus rates in some neighborhoods, including communities with large Orthodox Jewish populations.
As WCBS 880's Steve Burns reports, the graphs are stark showing percent positive rates jumping to around 5% in Borough Park, and 3% in Far Rockaway and Midwood.
More localized areas are seeing even higher rates.
"COVID-19 can be transmitted from an adult to a child and we are seeing transmission within households from adults to children in some of these communities," the city's health commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi wrote in a letter sent to Orthodox Jewish media outlets. "The neighborhoods experiencing transmission were particularly hard hit in the worst weeks of the pandemic this past spring and we never want to return to those awful days."
Chokshi added, "We also must emphasize that these communities’ past experience with COVID-19, does not guarantee immunity from future transmission. The science has not yet established that any section of New York City has reached herd immunity or even how long immunity lasts after someone has recovered from COVID-19."
The letter also reminded people about washing hands, covering faces, maintaining safe distances and staying home when ill.
"Many of these communities I think feel that they've already had COVID. They had unfortunately very high rates of COVID," said Dr. Aaron Glatt, a rabbi in Nassau County and the Chair of the Department of Medicine at Mount Sinai South Nassau.
He says some in the Orthodox community think they've achieved herd immunity because of how bad things were back in the spring.
"And I don't think there's information to support that," Glatt said. "It's not something that one should rely open, any perceived notions of herd immunity that a community might have."
He also doesn't think higher rates in these neighborhoods pose much of a threat to the city overall because of how insular these communities are.
"They often do wear masks when they're interacting with people outside their community," Glatt said.