My name is Yoni Bardash. I am an internal medicine resident in NYC and have been treating coronavirus patients all week. I’ve treated 25 positive patients and have an additional 50 patients actively being tested. Every day our numbers are increasing, our resources and supplies are more limited, residents, nurses, and medical providers have been exposed and are now quarantined, so we are short staffed and the situation is only getting worse. Having seen how quickly this virus is spreading and the vulnerable population this virus is affecting I feel I need to share my concerns because even though my fellow residents and I are doing everything we can to care for patients here in the hospital, it is the responsibility of our communities to protect their citizens and act responsibly to prevent and limit our vulnerable members from becoming exposed in the first place. While I am not trying to be an alarmist, I am disappointed to hear about how some of our community members and religious leaders are handling this situation. It’s both my medical and moral/ethical opinion, as well the opinion of infectious disease experts more experienced than I that continued gatherings (such as minyanim, Simchas, Yeshivas that are still open) are not only irresponsible, but are the very reason members of our community have become and will continue to become critically ill. While you may have your own personal reasons (ie chiyuv, yahrzeit, etc) and feel that you are healthy, your justifications do not excuse the gross negligence and harm that you are causing. It is no longer a maybe or if, rather your actions will directly kill your own community members, your friends, and your family. While you may make a personal calculation and be willing to take the risk for yourself, you do not have the right to make the decision for those you will infect because of your short sighted desire to daven in a minyan. You do not know other people’s medical issues, immune status and whether they are more susceptible and vulnerable. This is not a time to be “machmir” and in my humble opinion this is the greatest example of “mechzi k’yuhara.”
I have heard disturbing stories that rabbeim in our communities are telling congregants to daven privately and then themselves secretly organizing minyanim so that they can daven with a minyan. These actions have no justification and cause me to consider these actions the acts of rodfim. Please be machmir, be machmir by following the advice of endless numbers of our sincere religious leaders and medical experts.... stay home—daven at home, learn at home!!!
We are doing what we can here in the hospital, so please do what you can to keep our communities safe at home!