As Governor Cuomo shuts down schools in Brooklyn, Orthodox Jews feel unfairly targeted.
Earlier this week the team at Ambulnz learned that New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo temporarily closed public and private schools in several areas with large Orthodox populations, including Brooklyn and Queens. Cuomo’s objective was to prevent another outbreak of a virus that has already claimed the lives of more than 24,000 New Yorkers. Under this shutdown, 100 public schools and 200 private ones were closed in nine areas that are home to approximately 500,000 people, most of whom are Orthodox Jews. The Governor also indicated that he might close some religious institutions if their leaders did not abide by restrictions.
In order to assist the Orthodox Jewish community, Rapid Reliable Testing (RRT), a subsidiary company of Ambulnz Holdings, LLC, is supporting the shuls that provide much needed strength and hope to each of these communities. Rapid Reliable Testing is specifically helping the Orthodox community by offering testing for local yeshivas and day schools, pre-testing for families before their children’s weddings and the ability to order at home saliva test kits. They are also offering COVID-19 and IgG antibody testing services to synagogues, churches, and other houses of worship. The company has already tested over 300,000 people for the presence of COVID-19 and is currently testing over 10,000 people a week throughout the country.
“Rapid Reliable Testing has been at the forefront of responding to this pandemic, by making testing widely available to synagogues, schools, business, and communities across the country,” said Ben Sherman, EVP, Rapid Reliable Testing. “We have an obligation to our communities and our youth to provide safe, reliable testing in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio originally recommended the shutdown to the Governor during the Jewish holiday Sukkot, when Orthodox Jews limit their use of technology and would not hear about the news until sundown. Some people feel the timing was particularly bad and showed the government’s lack of concern towards the Orthodox Community. This shutdown is the latest development Orthodox Jews have had with local government regarding COVID-19. When the virus first arrived in March, Orthodox neighborhoods in New York City were hit hard when hundreds of people were hospitalized or died, and lockdowns closed many Jewish schools and businesses.
“The Orthodox communities feel frustrated and rightly so,” added Sherman. “Religious leaders in the area have recognized the threat caused by the surge in new cases being diagnosed and continue to urge compliance with guidelines to their communities and congregations. People are struggling to balance traditions with the latest wave of restrictions.”
When COVID-19 first hit New York back in March, Ambulnz was propelled to the front lines of the response efforts. The company took action by creating Strikeforce-19, a specially trained team of EMTs and paramedics which ended up transporting over 13,000 COVID-19 confirmed patients. During their time in New York, Ambulnz saw the devastation this virus was creating firsthand, especially in communities which already feel targeted by City Hall.
“More than 250 Ambulnz employees from across the country went to New York to help flatten the curve and care for patients,” said Anthony Capone, President of Ambulnz. “Now that some communities are seeing an uptick in positive COVID-19 cases, we are adding additional emergency vehicles to help transport people in affected communities across the city. As a New York-based company, this is an issue that is close to our hearts and we want to do everything we can to help the citizens and communities of New York get through this.”
The company feels strongly about the need to get the schools in New York back open, in addition to keeping our children safe and healthy. Learning remotely may prove to be disastrous for the Orthodox community as many have large families, choose to limit internet access, and live in conditions that can be less conducive to at-home schooling. Ambulnz and Rapid Reliable Testing are making a concerted effort to keep our communities safe and help get them back to some semblance of normalcy.