If you get sick or are diagnosed with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 on Shabbos Dear Friends,
I share the email below from Rabbi Dr. Aaron Glatt, a prominent
infectious disease specialist and talmid chacham who serves (among
other roles) as the Assistant Rabbi at Young Israel of Woodmere:
Rabbi Zvi Romm
1) Do you require prescription medications, and if so when should you start them?
Not all COVID-19 patients require treatment, and treatments do have
side effects. However, if treatment with oral agents is necessary, it
might be better to start therapy earlier rather than later.
Obtain the prescription
and fill it before Shabbos if appropriate, but it is absolutely allowed
(even required) to fill it on Shabbos, if indicated.
2) Find out what is the optimal way for you to get follow-up care should you need to do so on Shabbos.
Find out who and when to call before Shabbos. If your condition
deteriorates even mildly, one should not hesitate to call your provider
sooner rather than later to be re-evaluated on Shabbos.
3) If your condition
worsens to the point where you are short of breath or have significant
changes in breathing, mental status (e.g. lethargy, delirium or
unresponsiveness), or chest pain, call Hatzalah or 911 without
BH, most patients
with COVID-19 do not actually require hospitalization. The trick is to
identify as soon as possible those patients who unfortunately are progressing (worsening) and require more intensive care (medications, oxygen and / or going to the hospital).
One of the best guides to COVID-19 illness worsening is a change in breathing.
More rapid breathing at rest, shortness of breath on
even mild exertion and / or not being able to fully "catch your breath"
after movement are strong indicators that you need to be evaluated
again by your provider asap.
that have the capability, checking oxygen saturation with a pulse
oximeter (the little piece of equipment that is wrapped around a finger
and gives a number) is an excellent way to follow and assess breathing
"Normal" values will differ for everyone, but healthy people will
"saturate" between 96% and 99%, whereas people with respiratory
problems will have lower numbers (in the 92-96% range). As long as the
number are stable for you, and not dropping, that is a good sign.
If, however, the numbers are dropping, and certainly if they fall below
90-92%, one must get re-evaluated. I stress, if your condition worsens
to the point where you are short of breath or have any other
significant changes in breathing, mental state, or chest pain, call
Hatzalah or 911 without hesitation.
of this is REQUIRED on Shabbos because of "safeik sakanas
nefashos" (possibility of risk to life). Even the possibility of loss
of life overrides all Shabbos prohibitions.
No one should have any halachic indecision in calling a provider for
help if they are worried. Indeed, one is required to err on the side of
being overly cautious.
A person is called a "chosid shoteh" - a "righteous fool" - if one does not take risk to life seriously.
Our Rabbis tell us it is better to desecrate one Shabbos and live to
observe many more than to not desecrate the Shabbos and possibly die.
Our practicing extreme social distancing has
already begun to have a significant impact on COVID-19 cases. We MUST
not lose our resolve or let down our guard even as the numbers
hopefully improve. If we are to prevent further loss of
life, we must do everything we can to prevent any new cases of illness.
May we all have a safe, healthy chag kasher ve'sameach.