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Corona Virus

Hillel teaches us that before we look to others we must look to ourselves, for if we have not taken care of ourselves we cannot take care of others.

The outbreak of coronavirus in Wuhan dominates the news as more and more countries (and more and more airlines) block visitors from China to contain the disease, and more cases are diagnosed in other parts of the world, including the United States. Public health officials are taking stringent measures to keep the disease from breaking out here.

At the same time that public health officials are working to contain the coronavirus, they are trying to raise awareness of a much greater present threat to us -- the flu. The flu killed 34,000 people last year in the United States and sickened far more. Right now, we are experiencing a major flu epidemic that few are talking about. With that in mind, the mitzvah of the week is self-care. if you haven’t gotten a flu shot, get one -- it's not too late! If you have a cold and are feeling the effects of all of the temperature variations, listen to your body and stay at home. In addition to taking care of ourselves, we all bear the responsibility of not getting each other sick, especially because we often have no way of knowing who might be especially vulnerable to what we might be carrying with us.

During my recent trip to New Orleans, I was reminded that public health policies have evolved over time as our understanding of diseases has increased. For example, in the 1800s, disease was thought to be airborne; thus, if the air was disrupted, the disease would dissipate. One summer in particular, residents of New Orleans who were not wealthy enough to leave the city were subjected to the sounds of cannon balls going off throughout the night, to disrupt the air. Medicine has advanced since then, and we need to take care of ourselves so that, once we have taken care of ourselves, we can do what needs doing in the world around us.

For more information about the flu, read this recent story by NPR: 
Worried About Catching The New Coronavirus? In The U.S., Flu Is A Bigger Threat

Sat, September 19 2020 1 Tishrei 5781