PA Secretary of Health speaks to the Jewish community about COVID-19

By Bayley Carl
JFLV Marketing & Engagement Associate
On May 8, the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley hosted a Zoom meeting with Dr. Rachel Levine, secretary of health for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, for a special briefing about COVID-19. Levine addressed ways the Jewish community is being affected directly, such as when it comes to summer camp, but also spoke more broadly about what reopening the state will look like.

This Zoom meeting was moderated by Dr. Bill Markson, president of the Federation’s Maimonides Society. Community members had the opportunity to submit questions and participate in the talk.

Levine spoke about how public health preparedness has to be a priority and mitigating the spread of the virus as not to overwhelm the medical community. When the state is eventually reopened, she emphasized the importance of doing so gradually to reduce the risk of an increase in COVID-19 cases and deaths. Though efforts have succeeded in “bending the curve” and the healthcare systems have not become wildly overwhelmed, some areas have still been challenged.

While Levine encouraged social distancing, she also addressed when it’s actually important to take extra precautions.

“Being outside is great, and we encourage people to go outside. If you’re going to go outside to your backyard, you don’t need a mask,” she said.

Levine continued on to say that if you know you’ll be within close proximities of others, that is when you should wear a mask. When it comes to large gatherings in public places, she said that will be the last part of life to return to normal. But as we begin to reopen the country, Levine shared an important note: “Balance the public health risks of the virus and the public health risks of isolation.”