Coronavirus triggers closures, mass quarantines for New York Jewish community

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, flanked by state Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, left, and New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio, hold a news conference in Manhattan on the first confirmed case of the coronavirus in New York state, March 2, 2020.  

By Laura E. Adkins

This is an evolving story. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency will provide updates as they become available.  

NEW YORK (JTA) — Four Jewish day schools have temporarily closed, while 600 congregants of an Orthodox synagogue and two university students have been required to self-quarantine as a result of the coronavirus.

On Wednesday morning, Yeshiva University president Ari Berman informed the YU community that an undergraduate student had tested positive for COVID-19. The student’s father, a 50-year-old Orthodox Jewish attorney from suburban Westchester County, is in critical condition and has tested positive for COVID-19 as well.

All classes at the Wilf Campus in Upper Manhattan were canceled for the day, including graduate courses and the boys’ high school.

The YU student who tested positive has not been on campus since Feb. 27, the university told students and staff on Tuesday.

The afflicted father also has at least one child who attends the Modern Orthodox day school SAR Academy in the Riverdale section of the Bronx.

At a news conference Wednesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo shared that the man’s wife, daughter and neighbor had tested positive for the virus as well, and that the son who attends YU had been symptomatic prior to his father’s hospitalization. He provided no details on the son’s condition.

The attorney was one of two reported cases of coronavirus in New York as of Tuesday afternoon.

SAR, Westchester Day School and Westchester Torah Academy have all closed temporarily due to possible coronavirus exposure, and Temple Young Israel in New Rochelle, also in Westchester, is being required to halt its services immediately. The state is requiring self-quarantine for congregants and those who have attended recent events at the synagogue.