In Israel, the coronavirus is spreading in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities up to eight times faster than anywhere else in the country.
Ultra-Orthodox Jews account for 12 percent of Israel’s population, but they make up 40 to 60 percent of coronavirus patients at four of the country’s largest hospitals, officials told Israeli media. Health experts said the virus is moving so quickly in these communities because the ultra-Orthodox have large families, don’t trust the government, and pay little to no attention to secular media. Many are also still gathering for prayers and funerals, despite all Israelis being ordered to stay home.
Bnei Brak is a suburb of Tel Aviv, and 95 percent of the population is ultra-Orthodox. On Friday, there were 267 confirmed coronavirus cases, and by Monday, that number climbed to 508. Several hundred mourners gathered in Bnei Brak on Saturday night for the funeral of a rabbi, prompting furious secular Israelis to call on the government to place Bnei Brak under curfew. On Monday, a New York Times journalist and photographer were told to leave a synagogue in the suburb where morning services were being held, and they walked past several groups meeting furtively for prayers.
Bnei Brak has just one hospital, and its director general, Dr. Moti Ravid, told the Times he would like authorities to prohibit residents from leaving for at least one week, to slow down the coronavirus’ spread. There are lots of small children living in the town, and “if they help to infect others, the result will be that many old people will die,” he said.
More stories from theweek.com
Fox News reportedly fears its early downplaying of COVID-19 leaves it open to lawsuits
Girl Scout cookies can now be ordered online and delivered to first responders
What comes after social distancing? Scientists are proposing a massive test-and-trace effort requiring ‘tens of thousands of people’