There are some hopeful signs in our nation’s months-long battle with the coronavirus. Testing has ramped up, treatments for Covid-19 have improved, businesses are finding creative ways to reopen, and with every passing day we are closer to a safe and effective vaccine.
But we are not there yet.
Last week, the United States surpassed 7 million cases and 200,000 deaths, nearly 16,000 of those in California, according to the New York Times. Our local Jewish community is vulnerable, too.
And among the most vulnerable are those working and living in senior homes.
As one of our stories notes, more than 350 senior care facilities across the state have reported cases of Covid-19 over the past months, some of them in our own community. That illustrates the vulnerability of these institutions, and given that the majority of those who succumb to Covid-19 are seniors and frontline workers, it remains cause for deep concern.
We know without a doubt that our Bay Area Jewish senior residences are guided by the highest public health and ethical standards, including the bedrock Jewish value of kibud av v’em, honoring our parents as commanded by the Torah.
When outbreaks occur in those facilities, we have seen staff and administrators respond swiftly to isolate and lock down. And even then, at great risk to their own health, these essential frontline workers show up day after day to take care of our loved ones. No one cares more deeply about providing for the frail elderly, memory-care patients and aging adults than those who work at our Jewish senior residences. We are forever grateful to them.
Of course, our hearts also go out to the residents themselves, understandably worried about their own safety, no matter the degree of care taken to keep them healthy. We think of their family members, who are restricted from visiting them. Who can forget the many poignant images of family members waving hello to their loved ones through the windows of a senior residence, or saying their final goodbyes on FaceTime, because Covid-19 restrictions forbid human contact? This is indeed a cruel virus, invading every part of our lives.
Everyone — the staff, the residents and their families — has endured a terribly difficult time, and we stand in awe of their commitment to honor our mothers and fathers.
We salute the frontline workers in nursing homes and senior residences, just as we extend our love to the residents and their families, as we anxiously await the end of this long and tragic global nightmare.