Tag Archives: NY

Reopening society may require us to follow Israel’s example

israelreopens

It’s important that I start this piece by making it very clear that I am an American who loves his country.  The opinion I am about to share should be seen more as a call to arms and encouragement than a criticism or indictment.  Who knows? If properly heeded it might just save some lives.

The other day a friend of mine from my grammar school days in London posted statistics showing how, to date, of all developed countries none had done better in keeping down the Coronavirus death toll than Israel.  The friend I speak of, Alison Fisch-Katz, is a brilliant writer, not swayed by political bias, and honest in her assessments. In her post Alison said the following:

Corona deaths per 100,000 in developed countries from highest: Belgium (7,924 deaths), Spain (25,428 deaths), Italy (29,079 deaths), UK (28,734 deaths), France (25,201 deaths), Holland (5,102 deaths), Sweden (2,321 deaths), US (69,121 deaths – NY 18,000)…. Israel is No. 24 out of 30 on the graph with 230 fatalities out of a population of 9 million (similar populations to New York and Sweden). Israel’s stringent measures have saved thousands of lives.
The economy is now being re-opened with caution. If the curve doesn’t spike, the expectation is that by month’s end we will be allowed to congregate freely with no restrictions. Red lights that will return the country to isolation are: 1. If the rate of infection rises again to 100 cases per day. 2. If rate multiplies by 30 every 10 days. 3. If hard cases rise to 250.
KEEP WEARING YOUR MASK!!😷

The numbers she presented are quite real. When I read her post, coupled with a previous article I had read in Times of Israel by founding editor and part of that same group of friends,  David Horovitz,  it seemed to consolidate some feelings I had felt for some time.  The ultimate management of the current situation ultimately lies more in the hands of the people than their respective governments.

The Times of Israel article entitled “It’s not over, and uncertainty abounds, but Israel’s COVID-19 stats are stunning”  is striking because in its description of everything Israel has done, from mitigation strategies to the timeline, it doesn’t differ much from actions taken here in America.  The population of Israel is approximately 8.6 million.  The population of New York City is approximately 8.4 million.  While at the time that I write this the death toll in Israel is less than 300, by startling contrast the death toll in New York City is over 18,000. I have maintained from the start that public transportation, particularly the New York City subway system has played a significant role in the spread.  I also have witnessed a New York City mayor performing less than adequately.  Yet as easy and popular as it is to point the finger at our elected leaders and politicians, sometimes accurately, often partisan based, I believe that the greatest responsibility of slowing the spread and minimizing the loss of life lies in the hands of us, the people.

For 3 1/2 years between 1980 and 1985 I lived in Jerusalem, Israel.  When I read Alison’s post I shared a thought with her and followed it with a question. My thought was as follows. During my time in Israel, when riding the bus I was often confronted by rude people who had no qualms in pushing and shoving me or anyone else out of their way.  Israeli’s riding a bus back then were not the most patient or polite of people. In fairness, packed buses have never been known to bring out the best in anyone.  But when I looked at the people pushing me I also realized that more than likely, every single one of them would have given their life to protect mine and would have done so without a moment’s hesitation.  In western culture, today’s definition of civilized is far too often based on packaging and presentation, while lacking in action and sacrifice. Of course the healthcare workers are a huge exception as their actions and sacrifices are unmatched and a blessing to us all.  I continued by telling Alison that it was that mentality of caring for another person’s life as though it was their very own that has always been my fondest memory of Israel. I went on to ask her if I would be correct to think the mentality I remember so well has impacted the slow spread of COVID-19 cases and most importantly the significantly lower death toll in the country?  She answered me as follows.

Unlike other countries that have pursued herd immunization (example, Sweden & UK – at the beginning) followed a policy of survival of the fittest and essentially sacrificed the older generation. Israel, on the other hand, cares about its parents and everyone complied with love.

While Alison’s response might be perceived by some as indictment on these nation’s citizens and their love for their elderly friends and relatives, it actually speaks more to Israel’s inherent value system.  While everyone’s intentions were the same, have as few deaths as possible, why are the results so different? As a nation threatened by neighboring enemies since it declared independence some 72 years ago, the mentality has always been one critical to its survival.  That mentality, a value for human life that takes precedent over everything else and a sense of responsibility for the safety and well-being of others, is a basic instinct of the populous, one that makes up the very core of what has helped the country survive. To put it simply, since Israel is far more used to having the lives of its citizens threatened than other developed countries, the people were more prepared.  While the majority of Israel’s adults either still are in, or have spent time in the military training to defend their country, the majority of adults in New York City have never dealt with that level of collective responsibility.  So although the leadership in Israel needed to initially enforce the policy as other nations and localities did, once the people understood the critical nature of that responsibility, the people, as Alison put it, complied with love.

While that same love exists in the places suffering significantly higher death tolls, we need to consider the possibility that the preparation and sense of responsibility does not exist on an equal level. While our essential workers keep our lives moving and our healthcare professionals give their hearts and souls to saving lives, the rest of us need to step up to the plate and meet our responsibilities.  The current schism developing within American society of staying at home or reopening, one like so many others becoming a political one, does actually have a middle of the road.  Like so many things it’s a simple concept with a more difficult practical implementation.  Reopen while simultaneously going out of your way to keep those at high risk as safe as possible.  The hard part is to make people understand their individual responsibility.  As much as some people prefer to bloviate on social media rather than saying or doing something constructive, government can’t really make this work by itself. The people need to do their part for it to be even partially successful.

In essence this means finding those people who are high risk, the elderly or those with preexisting medical conditions and doing what we can to help them. Run errands that make it possible for them to stay at home.  Call them to see how they’re doing? Show them that they are not alone.  Sometimes all they need is a friend.  Let them know that if they need anything you will take extra time and get it for them. And most importantly,  do everything in your personal power to not put them at risk.  Keep a safe distance and wear a mask whenever you are in their vicinity. By looking after their best interests as though they were your own, which is indeed the reality, we can make a big difference.  Want your life to get back as much as possible to what you remember as being normal?  It comes with a cost, and that cost is caring about someone other than yourself.  It worked in Israel, theoretically there is no reason it can work everywhere else.  Ultimately the cost of not doing it is a far greater one.

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Positive Stories to Brighten your day

raysofhope

Want some good news?  Sure you do.  Well there happens to be plenty of it out there if you actually want to find it badly enough.  Any time we speak about the positive and hopeful, it is appropriate to recognize the tragedy that has befallen too many people since COVID-19 took off all over the world.  We need to offer our compassion and support to those who need it whenever possible. But one of the ways to help them and everyone else it to keep a clear perspective of what is happening around us, and that means to take the time to acknowledge the happier stories and the people that make the world a better place. Here are a few stories that will hopefully brighten your day.

1-Surviving Seniors

Leonidas

Leonidas Romero, 92, with his daughter, Carolina Romero.

Sometimes the devil is in the details, but other times only the headlines matter.  While tragically the elderly population has suffered due to COVID-19, it’s important to note that unlike what many reports might lead you to believe, it is not a death sentence.  We need to continue to take all actions possible to keep our elderly safe as it is very dangerous for them to get COVID-19, but let’s also recognize some notable stories of seniors that fell victim to it and survived.

A 92 year old man in Massachusetts returned home after weeks in the hospital.

A 97-year-old woman in Brazil survived the virus.

A 104 year old man in Oregon survived COVID-19.

And a 106 year old woman in the UK survived after 3 weeks of hospitalization.

Four random cases of which there are definitely more, and while we need to do everything we can to risk the exposure of the elderly, enough to make us feel a whole lot better.

2- A Happy Milestone

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Bianca Jimenez, 600th patient released from Mount Sinai South Nassau in Oceanside, NY

A little closer to home, on April 25th, Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital in Oceanside, NY celebrated as it released its 600th patient recovering from the Coronavirus. 19 year old Bianca Jimenez was released less than a week after being admitted with a fever of 104 and symptoms that included, cough, dizziness and shortness of breath.  We all thank our Drs. and nurses any chance we get, but if you talk with them you know nothing makes them feel better than sending people home who are recovering.  Let’s hope that number continues to grow exponentially faster.

3- Bringing joy and support through music

BSM

http://newjersey.news12.com/clip/15054098/broadway-actor-brian-stokes-mitchell-takes-on-new-role-after-bout-with-covid-19

Broadway performer, Brian Stokes Mitchell, as a way to express his gratitude to front line workers has taken to singing from this Upper West Side window in Manhattan. Singing “The Impossible Dream”,  Mitchell says that what he is doing “is not a performance. It’s an act of gratitude.”  He also states that the song is not about doing something impossible, rather it is about trying.  To make what he is doing even more poignant, Mitchell himself has had the virus and was even sick enough to worry about whether it would have a permanent impact on his vocal chords.  I think it’s safe to say that there are many people very happy that it didn’t.

4- NFL’s Greatest Moment

Not only did the NFL Draft provide us with a fun distraction, it offered us some heartwarming stories that yes, get ready for it, had nothing to do with the Coronavirus. As serious and deadly as the illness is, it is refreshing to hear about something else, especially if it is something good.  No story struck me more than the story of Offensive Lineman Austin Jackson, picked 18th by the Miami Dolphins.  Austin’s little sister Autumn, was inflicted with Diamond Blackfan Anemia (DBA), a rare inherited disorder that prevents bone marrow from producing red blood cells.  Last year with her condition deteriorating, she required a bone marrow transplant just to help her survive, let alone improve.  Without  any hesitation, Austin, who matched as a donor did what was necessary to help his sister despite the risk to himself and his career.  Around 1 year after the successful transplant, Autumn is on her way to complete recovery and Austin is on his way to the NFL.  This is probably the first time a player has become one of my favorites in the NFL before even playing a snap. Thank you to them both for their inspiration.

And on a side note, kudos to NFL commissioner to Roger Goodell, for not only giving us a really well run and entertaining draft during challenging times, but for being able to laugh at himself enough to encourage virtual boos.  Something tells me those virtual boos might just turn into more cheers in the  future than he’s ever seen before.

 

So there you have it, some stories I hope will make you feel just a little uplifted in a time when despair sells. We can’t control a lot of what happens, but we can control what we put out there and what we allow in.  Let’s make an effort to acknowledge and be grateful for what is good out there, because not doing so will very possibly hurt us more than any virus ever could.

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U.S. Fighter Jets Getting the Job done!

fighter-jets-American-Fighter-Jets-1For all the times myself and others criticize and call on our government to protect us, it is also necessary to recognize the times they do just that.  An unresponsive jet has been escorted by US Fighter Jets into Cuban airspace, at which time the windows of the plane were described as frosted.  The plane reportedly took off from Rochester, NY around 8:30 this morning and had a flight plan taking it to Naples, Florida.  No more details seem to be available at this time.

I want to take this opportunity to publicly state that between this incident and the one taking place within the past week when a plane was unresponsive near Washington, D.C., all signs indicate the military is prepared and keeping a close eye on potential threats.  We’ve heard the words and in the past week we’ve seen the actions.  Thank you to the military and the U.S. government for getting it done.  Please keep up the good work.  We all need you.

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