The message of Passover is one of freedom and the will to persevere with faith against all odds. This holiday should be an inspiration to all of us to fight in every way we can against the pandemic of coronavirus. Our residents have been diligent in practicing social distancing, traveling only for essential needs and other measures recommended for their protection. We’ve all made tremendous economic, religious, emotional and social sacrifices in adapting to a new lifestyle.
Coronavirus is not fake news and it is not a hoax. This is why I am urging all residents of Beachwood and other neighboring communities to limit your Passover seder to only those members of your family who regularly live in your home. We are receiving more information, including from the observant community, that New York and New Jersey residents are expected for Passover and beyond. In Beachwood, we are increasingly aware of families who have already welcomed residents from New York and New Jersey. These families should voluntarily self-quarantine for 14 days.
There is only one known way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and that is by staying apart from everyone: no exceptions. In the strongest terms I can say it, this is a life-and-death matter. You may have a grandparent who is alone this holiday. Your brother’s family in New York may all be asymptomatic. Your sister and her family down the street all look fine and you walk with them every day.
But there aren’t enough tests yet to know that everyone in your family is negative for COVID-19. If one person at your seder is positive, even without symptoms, that person can spread the virus to three more and that is why it grows exponentially. Don’t rely on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention message to social distance away from groups larger than 10. This is not a magic number. It doesn’t mean you can have up to 10 people at your seder or in your home.
The CDC has issued a travel advisory for residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to avoid nonessential out-of-state travel. New York represents one-third of the positive tests and deaths in the country. We are all making sacrifices during this period of national crisis. I have two grandchildren who live around the corner that I have not seen in three weeks. We are doing a Zoom seder with relatives in six cities around the country. Whether you planned to have family visit from the East Coast or around the corner: tell them to stay home. Hold a digital seder if you can.
The more we stay apart, the more we will reduce the inevitable demand on our local hospital system and the inevitable deaths that result from this virus. All of us care deeply about the health of our family, friends and community. Please make these sacrifices for this Passover so that we can all be together for the High Holy Days and Passover next year. Together, we will get through this and come out stronger on the other side. Chag sameach.
Martin S. Horwitz is mayor of the city of Beachwood.