An analysis conducted by The Jewish Press of publicly-available data has found no obvious correlation between the Covid-19 death rate and mass adherence to Covid-19 rules and recommendations.
For the last few months, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and countless others have berated Orthodox Jews for not adhering to Covid-19 rules. To ignore these rules is to put other people’s lives at risk, they have warned repeatedly.
Nonetheless, the vast majority of frum Jews living in areas like Boro Park and Williamsburg do not follow many Covid-19 regulations and recommendations. What has been the outcome?
The Jewish Press last week dug into the data, which is accessible on the website of the New York City Department of Health. Based on the pronouncements of public officials, The Jewish Press assumed the number of deaths would be greater in heavily frum (and especially chassidic) areas of the city in comparison to other areas where people strictly adhere to Covid-19 regulations. The data, however, tell a different story.
Take Crown Heights and Washington Heights, for example. In Crown Heights, hardly anyone wears a mask. In Washington Heights, almost everyone wears a mask. Yet, in one of Washington Heights’s two zip codes (10040), the number of Covid-19 deaths per 100,000 is greater (289) than the number of Covid-19 deaths per 100,000 in the 11213 zip code of Crown Heights (234).
Meanwhile, in heavily chassidic Williamsburg – in zip codes 11205, 11206, and 11211 –the number of Covid-19 deaths per 100,000 is even lower: 110, 186, and 142, respectively. Williamsburg actually seems to have the lowest death rate of any frum neighborhood. The area with the highest Covid-19 death rate in the city (714 – or five times higher than the rate in Williamsburg) is East New York (zip code 11239), where few Jews live.
A comparison between Boro Park and Flatbush is illustrative as well. In Boro Park, compliance with Covid-19 guidelines is relatively low. In Flatbush, it’s relatively high. But the number of Covid-19 deaths per 100,000 is actually lower in Boro Park than in Flatbush. In the Boro Park zip codes of 11204 and 11219, the numbers are 188 and 219, respectively. In the Flatbush zip codes of 11230, 11210, and 11234, the numbers are is 289, 254, and 199, respectively.
Below is more data on the number of deaths per 100,000 in areas of the city with a significant frum population along with other areas not known to contain many frum Jews. All figures reflect the Covid-19 death rate since the beginning of the pandemic (Note: The names assigned to the zip codes were taken from the city. Colloquially, they may be called different names. For non-Jewish neighborhoods, The Jewish Press tried to select a representative sample.)
10002 – Chinatown/Lower East Side: 215
10007 – TriBeCa: 57
10012 – Greenwich Village/Soho: 39
10024 – Upper West Side: 128
10025 – Manhattan Valley/Morningside Heights/Upper West Side: 195
10028 – Upper East Side/Yorkville: 73
10033 – Washington Heights (North and South): 208
10040 – Washington Heights (North): 289
10044 – Roosevelt Island: 308
10282 – Battery Park City: 251
10458 – Belmont/Fordham University/Kingsbridge: 158
10469 – Allerton/Baychester/Pelham Gardens/Williamsbridge: 510
10471 – Fieldston/North Riverdale/Riverdale: 419
11204 – Bensohurst/Mapleton: 188
11205 – Bedford-Stuyvesant (West)/Clinton Hill/Fort Greene: 110
11206 – Williamsburg (South): 186
11210 – Flatlands/Midwood: 254
11211 – East Williamsburg/Williamsburg (North and South): 142
11212 – Ocean Hill-Brownsville: 318
11213 – Crown Heights (East): 234
11219 – Boro Park: 219
11225 – Crown Heights (West)/Prospect Lefferts Gardens: 252
11230 – Midwood: 289
11234 – Bergen Beach/Flatlands/Marine Park, Mill Basin: 199
11235 – Brighton Beach/Manhattan Beach/Sheepshead Bay: 382
11236 – Canarsie: 309
11239 – East New York: 714
11354 – Flushing/Murray Hill: 569
11367 – Kew Gardens Hills/Pomonok: 165
11372 – Jackson Heights: 432
11375 – Forest Hills: 261
11415 – Kew Gardens: 318
11426 – Bellerose: 174
11432 – Hillcrest/Jamaica Estates/Jamaica Hills: 385
11691 – Edgemere/Far Rockaway: 568
10304 – New Dorp/Todt Hill: 449
10310 – Port Richmond/Randall Manor/West Brighton: 162
10314 – Bloomfield/Freshkills Park: 224
Asked why Cuomo has publicly targeted Orthodox Jews in light of this data, Jack Sterne, a spokesperson for the Cuomo administration, responded, “The science is clear: commonsense actions like wearing masks, avoiding gatherings, washing your hands, and limiting indoor activities can reduce the spread of Covid, and anyone who says otherwise is either uninformed or lying.”
He added, “Everyone needs to remember that we aren’t fighting Covid just to prevent deaths. Even those with mild cases can face serious long-term health impacts – and these public health guidelines are designed to keep the entire state healthy. The goal now is preventing our hospitals from becoming overwhelmed so those who do become seriously ill can receive the care they need.”