This site serves as a central COVID related resource for our community. Please explore and check back regularly for up-to-date changes and resources.
 If you have any questions about COVID-19 or the resources available in our community and you do not find the desired information on this site, please email us at info@jcovid.com.

Welcome. 

We are a group of frum physicians in Baltimore committed to providing education for the public, personal guidance to individuals, and information to guide public policy, specifically in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic and its management in the Baltimore Jewish community. 

On this page, we will be addressing timely questions with up-to-date answers. Please note that many questions depend on specific details, and so may need personalized answers. See below for information on reaching out to us directly. 

If we are reopening, why do we still need any regulations? Do I need to worry about catching the virus if I only do things that are allowed? (5/20/20)

Mitigation is the process of slowing, but not stopping, the spread of a virus. The initial response was to shut down in a dramatic way, to slow the spread of the virus as much as possible. As we “reopen”, the risk of catching and spreading the virus is still very real. While some people are at lower risk, and some are at higher risk, it is important to understand that no one is free of risk. The activities which have been allowed are deemed lower risk activities when done as directed, and by the people for whom they are recommended. The goal is to balance preventing widespread infection, or infection of higher risk people, while allowing those with lesser risk to start to return to normalcy.

How do public health and medical professionals address these questions? Are there answers to these questions? (5/20/20)

This is a new virus, and there is still much to be understood. However, over the last few months, much information has been published from all over the world, about how the virus is transmitted and how it affects people. Some of this is done by experimentation in a lab, and some of this is reported by studying areas where there have been outbreaks and transmission of the virus. By monitoring the scientific literature, and by carefully watching how the illness is affecting different locations, combined with a background knowledge of public health and medical sciences, we can start to understand what to expect in different situations, and how to lower the risk. 

Can I rehire my cleaning help to work inside my home? (5/21/20)

At this point, we are recommending against bringing cleaning help inside the home (see below). However, if there is a serious concern or health-related reason that cleaning help is needed, this should be discussed on an individual basis. 

Why:  Indoor exposure for extended periods of time is a significant risk factor for transmission of the virus. One can spread the virus before (or even without) developing symptoms. Hired help can become exposed to the virus without knowing and spread it to others. Sadly, there are still many thousands of COVID cases being diagnosed each week in Maryland. Bringing outside help into the home could put your family and the community at risk. We understand (firsthand!) the difficulty in not having the extra help, and look forward to when this will no longer be necessary.

Can I have a maintenance person come to my house? (5/21/20)

The need may arise to hire a worker for essential home services, such as HVAC, plumbing or electricity. In many cases, it may not be realistic to delay repairs or services. The following steps should be taken to minimize exposure: The worker should be in the home for the shortest possible time. Whenever able, discussion should take place by phone prior to the appointment; this can be done from the car before entering. Ensure that the maintenance person has not had any symptoms of COVID-19. Once inside, the family and the worker should maintain a 6-foot distance as able. When in the same room, both the worker and family members should wear a mask. Surfaces contacted by the craftsman should be sanitized after the work is done.

Why do I need to wear a mask in public? Why does the CDC now recommend masks, when it did not before? (5/25/20)

woman wearing face covering, with a detail showing how the cloth barrier helps to contain respiratory droplets that she exhales

Masks are an important part of preventing COVID-19 spread, but not because they protect the wearer – the spaces that masks have are likely to let in small particles that are floating in the air. However, the value of everyone wearing masks is that it can prevent people who have the virus from spreading it. Even simple cloth masks are able to catch much of the larger respiratory droplets that we make when we breathe. And since many of the people who spread COVID-19 don’t yet know that they have it, the best way to prevent spreading the virus is for everyone to wear masks when in social settings. We all protect each other – kol yisrael areivim.

(Image Source: CDC)

Do I need to wipe down all of my groceries? Do I have to worry about getting COVID-19 from Amazon packages? (5/26/20)

Contamination of boxes and food containers does not appear to be a significant route of spread for COVID-19. Respiratory droplets from a sneeze, cough or even talking can land on food or packages, and theoretically could cause COVID-19 infections. However, the virus doesn’t live long on these surfaces, especially outside in the open air. In most cases, a lot of time passes between someone in a store or warehouse handling your packages and you touching them at home. By then, the virus is no longer active and unable to make people sick. Additionally, with the increased awareness and precautions that are being taken in stores, such as wearing masks and gloves, and frequent hand sanitizing, there is a much lower risk of droplets landing on your packages. (Of course, if someone sick with COVID-19 recently handled your packages, extra precautions are appropriate.)

Please also see the next question.

See also: https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-during-emergencies/shopping-food-during-covid-19-pandemic-information-consumers

Does this mean that I can't catch COVID-19 through touching surfaces? (5/26/20)

The information in the previous item is true regarding groceries and packages. However, the reasons above may not apply to many other situations. For instance, if one person who is infected touches his or her nose or mouth, and then touches a surface (like a door handle or desk), the virus may well be able to infect a second person who touches that surface shortly afterward. For this reason it remains important to practice hand hygiene and to try to avoid touching one’s face when in public areas, and to disinfect surfaces when there is concern for contamination (especially in stores or other higher traffic settings). 

See also: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html

Have a question?

We will be adding new FAQ’s daily. If there is a general question that you would like us to address, please email us at medical@jcovid.com.

For many questions, an answer would require more details regarding the people involved and the environment. Please feel free to reach out to us at medical@jcovid.com to discuss with a member of our medical group.

Our goal is to offer personalized guidance, help to assess the potential risks and benefits, and provide the necessary information for individuals to make educated choices. We may also be able to offer reasonable modifications that can lower the risk of COVID transmission in a given situation. 

For Medical Professionals

If you would like to be involved, we would love your assistance. Please reach out to us at medical@jcovid.com and we will contact you. 

Guidance

Resources

  • Click here for the latest letter from local physicians – 5/20/20
  • For more detailed reading on COVID-19, be sure to check out Dr. Dan Grove’s blog, “My Covid Journey” 
  • Click here to listen to our doctors discussing your questions on 4th Bikur Cholim Conference Call