Dr. Deborah Birx said Wednesday the Orthodox Jews clashing with local officials over new coronavirus restrictions in Brooklyn need to understand that they’re living in a “community of others.”
“We are a community together. No one group lives in isolation,” the White House coronavirus task force coordinator told reporters after a roundtable talk at Stony Brook University on Long Island.
“I think that community needs to understand they’re within the United States, in a community of others and it’s our job to protect one another by doing what we need to do to ensure others stay safe and to ensure we don’t spread the virus to others.”
Birx said that social-distancing measures are particularly crucial “when they come together to break bread together.”
“I know that’s hard, [and] it’s particularly hard in social gatherings when we come together, but if you have your mask off and you are indoors, there could be virus spreading and so really figuring out how you [are] physically distant and ensure people are safe,” she said.
Birx’s comments come after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced new restrictions for large segments of Brooklyn and Queens, which included closing non-essential businesses and limiting capacity at houses of worship in coronavirus hot spots.
Some members of the Hasidic enclave in Borough Park objected to the measures and held demonstrations Tuesday night, defying police orders to disperse and lighting a fire in protest.
Asked about Cuomo’s fresh round of lockdowns in general, Birx said the White House coronavirus task force “supports governors in their local decision-making.”
“We put recommendations in [a weekly report to governors] but we understand that the governors and mayors are closest to the community that really understand precisely how to adapt and adopt recommendations to meet the needs of their communities,” she said.