Coronavirus: A Modern Leprosy

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Coronavirus: A Modern Leprosy.”

What an interesting time this week during the coronavirus for my bar-mitzvah parshas of Tazria and Metzora, where we learn about how to handle someone with the plague of leprosy…What’s fascinating though for our times is that right here in the Torah, long before medical science understood germs, washing of hands, and disinfectants, we have the first instruction on quarantining someone who is sick. The person with leprosy is deemed impure and is put outside the camp in quarantine, repeatedly checked (e.g. tested) by the Kohen, until they are healed, at which time they are purified before being allowed back in. What we don’t see with leprosy is that the whole community is put in a state of quasi quarantine as we are doing now globally with the coronavirus.


In the end, I see this coronavirus blowing up with some people forever anxious and germophobic and others becoming complacent and careless about the whole thing. Either way there will be more sick and dying people, as well as anger at the system that over time repeatedly failed us. This week’s parsha is a good reminder to go back to the ultimate wisdom of the Torah and read again how we handle the leper and manage with a thoughtful risk-based management approach and an eye on the ultimate purity—physically and spiritually—of the individual and the community.

(Free Photo via Pixabay)

Coronavirus – Something or Nothing?

I don’t know about you but I have found the communication about the Coronavirus to be absolutely confusing.


And the actions demonstrating unpreparedness, disorganized response, general chaos, and panic do not match the few calming words we are getting. 


No wonder everyone is panicking and the bottom is falling from the market.


On one hand:


– The officials tell everyone to remain calm, and there is no reason to panic. 


– Help is on the way.


– People are overreacting.


– Most people that get Covid 19 won’t even know they had it or the symptoms will be mild (or maybe moderate)


– The death rate is “only” like 3 or 4% and it’s mostly older people or those with chronic ailments anyway (as if these people don’t matter). 


– Younger children aren’t really getting it (although we don’t know exactly why or the impact on pregnant women). 


– It’s less contagious and deadly than the flu (wait, it’s more contagious and deadly). 


– There are plenty of tests available for everyone (no, there aren’t).


– It will be over in a few weeks when the seasons change and the temperature goes up. 


– A vaccine will soon be ready for testing and then distribution after 12-18 months. 


– The numbers of infected are going down in China–see they have it under control!


– Maybe we should allow investigative drugs to be used (or maybe not, the FDA thinks this is a bad idea).


– The impact to the economy will be over probably by August (or will it?). 


– It’ll ALL be over soon.


On the other hand:


– We don’t know what we’re facing (people are routinely using the words apocalypse and armageddon). 


– This could be the “big one!”


– Is this a punishment from G-d (and is the Messiah coming)? 


– This has reached pandemic proportions. 


– We are declaring a national emergency. 


– This may have come out of a Chinese bioweapons lab.


– Also, China suppressed information and initial response on this making the outbreak worse. 


– “China should be punished for these things” (or some version of this).


– Cases are raising around the world. 


– The contagion is worse than initially thought (there are comparisons to the Spanish Flu of 1918 which killed around 50 million people)


– The death rate is higher than expected. 


– We don’t know why or where certain people got Covid 19 from.


– The hospitals are already overwhelmed and are unprepared for a real surge of cases. 


– We need to “flatten the curve” so our healthcare system isn’t brought to its knees. 


– We are already triaging patients and our doctors and nurses are working extra long hours and are exhausted. 


– We aren’t prepared for this–our healthcare system and government has “failed us”. 


– We’re rolling out unprecedented economic assistance from the Fed, the Treasury…another trillion dollar deficit (no answer for how this gets paid, if ever…can anyone say runaway inflation in the future and lots of worthless dollars). 


– Washing and “Social Distancing” are paramount. 


– There is a run on toilet paper and disinfectants and these are either sold out or vendors are price gouging these items. 


– We are shutting down the country (workplaces, fitness centers, eat-in restaurants, entertainment, travel, places of worship, and any significant gathering of people). 


– The instructions to stay at home in “indefinite”!


– People are stuck in the house and worried about how long this will go on. 


– Some places like New Rochelle, NY are under quarantine and the National Guard has been called out.


– There is talk of a curfew and further measures of quarantine to be enforced under penalty of imprisonment. 


– The lines at the stores (Costco, Sam’s Club, Supermarkets, Groceries) are out the door and the shelves are empty. 


– Amazon announces that they are running out on consumer stables!


– Businesses are suspending workers, moving them to part time, and laying them off. 


– The stock market is down by 1/3 and we’re told that this could just be the beginning. 


– A recession is looming and the economic impact and duration is unknown. 


– Italy is on lockdown. 


– Borders are being closed. 


– People can’t get home from abroad. 


– Cruise ships aren’t being allowed to port. 


– Airlines are screaming for a financial bailout. 

– Navy Hospital Ships with 1,000 beds each are being deployed to the east and west coast. 


– We’re sending $1,000 checks (or something like this) to people below a certain income level (maybe $65,000).


– Taxes are supposedly being deferred (although not filing of returns or estimated taxes yet).  


– People are wearing masks everywhere (but we are being told only the sick ones need to wear it and we see everyone in China wearing it and of course our first responders and medical professionals, so which is it).


– Primary voting is delayed in some states and there is question whether the November Presidential election will also be delayed.


Summary:


Does anyone know WTF is going on around here???


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Stop The Coronavirus, Please!

It’s been a few exhausting weeks since the outbreak of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) has gone public. 


First case in China in November.


Now as a Pandemic in 126 countries!


Over 132,000 confirmed cases, so far .


And around 5,000 deaths 🕱.


The numbers are projected to climb/////.


With Dr. Faucci of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) warning that it will “get worse before it gets better.”


Everything is closing down from our work facilities to Cruises, Broadway, and Disney.


Of course, we need the government (at all levels), health professionals, and pharmaceutical companies to get their acts together with an effective response strategy. 


Also, this is a wake up call for better preparedness for all sorts of natural and man made disasters that are awaiting. 


Today it’s a virus (natural or biowarfare) and tomorrow it’ll be a devastating cyber attack that we are woefully unprepared for. 


No more playing politics, half measures, and waiting for the next shoe to drop (Spanish Flu, Pearl Harbor, 9/11).


The rest of us need to do our “prepping” parts and to say a prayer or two and keep going. 


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

The Real Threat Is Surprise Attacks

Please see my new article in Israel Defense called, “The Real Threat is Surprise Attacks.

The element of surprise can overcome most defenses. This can happen whether through an insider threat or through new and stealthy technologies. Already in August 2018, two explosive-laden drones were used to attack the president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro. Similarly, last year, in the movie, Angel Has Fallen, we saw the president of the United States attacked by a swarm of drones. While this is a great threat in and of itself, I believe that the greater threat lies in the miniaturization of the drones, in some cases, drones with the size, shape, and function of insects.


Unfortunately, Yigal Amir used the element of surprise to assassinate the prime minister of Israel. Now there are other high-tech threats like miniaturized, weaponized drones. There is no excuse for us not to be on the lookout for and to be prepared to defend against these, so that our leadership and our democracies are duly protected. Surprise is a big advantage in warfare, but we must be one step ahead, so that we are prepared to defend against these as well as to turn the tables and effectively employ the continued element of surprise against our relentless adversaries.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Anti-Semitism: Preparedness Can’t Be Blind

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Anti-Semitism: Preparedness Can’t Be Blind.”

As I’m standing there, I feel someone coming up behind me and then running into me. Of course, with anti-Semitic attacks prominent and growing, I may have been at a slightly higher state of alert, and I turn around ready for whatever or to give someone a few choice words…And then I see the cane from a blind person.


So even in these times, when there are gangs, drugs, violence, and anti-Semitism, and “we can’t be careful enough” (especially given our long, deep history of religious persecution), at the same time, we need to judge our fellow man favorably first and foremost, and still we must be prepared for, G-d forbid, the worst at any time.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Israel Must Leave No Stone Unturned

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Israel Must Leave No Stone Unturned.”

Over the last decades since 1973, Israel has taken strong actions again to beef up their defenses and leave no stone unturned including taking the bold steps in destroying the menacing nuclear reactors of Iraq in 1981 and the Syrian reactor in 2007. Now Israel is facing a similar decision on action with Iran and their weapons of mass destruction. Israel and the United States need to leave no stone unturned in trying to find a path towards a peaceful resolution with Iran, but if that stone threatens potential annihilation of Israel and other western allies, then there should be no doubt whatever that Israel and other civilized nations must act once more to remove the threat and turn that stone into harmless dust again.


Whether towards peace or G-d forbid to war, Israel must be courageous to act and leave no stone unturned to secure its peace and security, or the ultimate defeat of its unrelenting enemies. Israel must be like Joseph, and be able to interpret the dreams and events unfolding before them, and like Pharaoh to make the decision to act and restore the meticulous butler, hang the negligent and dangerous baker, and save the nation from otherwise assured destruction. May G-d give us the wisdom, courage, and strength to do what we must eventually do and let it be for the good.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)