By Marcy Farrell
More than 90 coronavirus cases have been reported in Nassau County and there are at least six confirmed cases in the Five Towns, according to an email alert from the Village of Cedarhurst.
Many synagogues in the Five Towns closed over Shabbos. Shuls asked congregants to daven at home in order to flatten the curve of the pandemic. Other synagogues asked daveners to avoid congregating in the shul lobby and not to hold kiddush. The idea was to increase social distancing in order to slow the spread of the virus, to avoid a large number of people getting sick all at once.
“Anyone who is not feeling well and/or showing signs of cold-like symptoms, must stay at home and avoid any and all crowds at the current time,” a letter from a group of Five Towns rabbis reads.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran on Sunday issued a State of Emergency in Nassau County. She also ordered all private and public schools in Nassau County closed. All school busing from Nassau County has been suspended.
New York City’s public school system, the nation’s largest with 1.1 million students, will begin to shut down this week in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The number of New York City people killed by COVID-19 rose to five Sunday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
The latest cases are a 53-year-old woman who had diabetes and heart disease, a 56-year-old man who had diabetes and a 78 year-old man who also had a pre-existing condition. The deaths of an 83-year-old woman and a 79-year-old woman were already announced.
“I’m very, very concerned that we see a rapid spread of this disease, and it’s time to take more dramatic measures,” de Blasio said late Sunday afternoon. “This is a decision I have taken with no joy and a lot of pain.”
The public schools on Long Island will be shut until the end of spring break, officials said. Most area yeshivas told parents and students they would be closed indefinitely and would work quickly to put classes online.
Classes at Hebrew Academy of Nassau County and Har Torah in Little Neck were closed last week after learning that Har Torah junior high school assistant principal Rabbi Etan Ehrenfeld tested positive for COVID-19.
Ehrenfeld davened at Young Israel of West Hempstead the weekend before Purim and may have come into contact with several students.
Hebrew Academy of Long Beach and its high schools, SKA and DRS, are closed indefinitely, as are Shulamith School for Girls, Yeshiva of the South Shore, all divisions of Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway. Rambam Mesivta and Midreshet Shalhevet hope to reopen after Pesach but may have to change their plans.
Senior programming is canceled at Chabad of the Five Towns and The Marion & Aaron Gural JCC.
Columbia, Barnard, Fordham, Hofstra, NYU, FIT, Nassau Community College and Yeshiva universities said they would be canceling classes or suspending in-person classes.
SUNY and CUNY schools will be closed for the next week so instructors and administrators can prepare distance learning for the rest of the semester.
All New York area yeshiva athletic games and practices and all academic competitions have been suspended indefinitely.
See more updates at JTA