An Open Letter from Dr. Howard Lebowitz

Dr. Lebowitz submitted the following letter to TLS:

Dear Kehilla Kedosha d’Lakewood,

I write with one intention, to communicate the medical facts of this coronavirus and the implications for the Lakewood community.  I will leave it to others to determine which policies make the most sense based on these facts.

COVID-19, the disease caused by this virus, is lethal for a fraction of patients. The most vulnerable group of patients are those over 60. Some young adults have been severely affected as well. A man from our community, previously well, in his 30s has also died of this disease. There has been close to 50 deaths from our community and we still have tens of patients on ventilators in the intensive care units at area hospitals. This has been a historic scourge of illness and death not seen in the US since 1918.

Every patient that has died, every patient that is at the edge of death, every patient that had a flu-like illness became sick because a person next to them spewed virus in the air through a cough or a sneeze, which was subsequently inhaled by their “friend”. There is also the possibility of droplet to surface to the patient, but this is not likely the mode of spread for the majority of infections.

This coronavirus is a real risk, a life-threatening risk, that is being transmitted to close contacts. These close contacts may be infectious in any setting, home, shul, store. People may be infectious whether they are clinically ill, not yet ill, or feeling better.

This disease is called COVID-19 because it was described in December of 2019! We need to approach this virus and this disease with an abundance of humility and caution. Although every day brings new knowledge, there is much more than we do not know, than we currently know.

I was called by a gentleman insisting that he and his family should be able to safely visit his elderly parents because, “We all had it.”  To risk his parents’ lives based on the assumption that neither he nor his children are still shedding virus, is reckless.

I have talked to more than a few people who are sitting shiva for a parent or grandparent wracked with guilt that they were likely the source of infection.

Our response to this pandemic needs to be reasoned, rational, and responsible.  There is no place for ill-conceived assumptions and brazen disregard for the metziyus. Our lives and the lives of our loved ones are at stake.

Howard Lebowitz, M.D.

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  1. thank you doc for all your sleepless nights and what im sure is a constant battle you are fighting for all of us …

    • Yes, we can say that!!! Only Hashem could turn usually harmless breath into deadly illness for select few. And they did not just drop dead on contact with it. Most of them went to our best hospitals, where many very competent and well trained medical professionals tried to save them using 21st century medicine, and unfortunately were not successful. Hashem is teaching us all a lesson in humility. It’s not 1918 it is 2020, yet, we can’t stop this Mageifa with all our super advanced technology and have to go back to good old quarantine!

      • Best comment ever! Biggest lesson I learned from this virus is that WE HAVE NO CONTROL. Onlt Hashem does. So let’s do our hishtadlus, only because we are mechuyav to, but not to the point where we believe the hishtadlus will actually accomplish… No doctor or medicine or vaccine or alternate treatment has any power…

  2. Thank you Dr. for the letter.

    It appears that your letter is aiming for people that don’t know the facts.
    Can you please state facts that are known or where one can look to see the research that is reliable?
    I think that as long as people don’t know actual facts and are just told do this and this blindly, most will follow but a large amount will be lax…

  3. Dear Dr. Lebowitz,

    Your article/letter does not contain any facts or data. Please provide similar data available from research departments of universities in Boro Park and Williamsburg about the ‘Garlic Protocol’ for treating the virus.

    If no data is available on how a virus is spread, you should consider changing staying at home into a segulah and you’ll get a much better response.

    Science/research/data is not a driving force for us. You can ask anyone and they’ll tell you that the doctors themselves don’t know anything.

    You need proven facts, something more concrete. Similar to a Shlisel Challah or eating kugel leilui nishmas R Shaya ben R Moshe. FYI – not that we need it as proof, but these segulos have been researched for many years by top scientists from Kerestir and Ujhely and data is available on the topic since the 1800s.

    Thank you!

    • Oiber –
      I suggest that you ask to have your comment taken down. It is inappropriate to make letzanos when speaking of a matter of life and death.

    • Oiber Chacham – The facts are that 50 people died in Lakewood alone, and more are on the verge Hashem Yishlach Lahem Refuah Sheleimah Bekarov. We also don’t know anything yet immunity. Therefore stay at home. Hope that clears it up for twisted minds.

  4. thank you for setting the facts straight from the perspective from a doctor. You work is truly saving families from grief and deaths! Arichas Yamim! May you continue to help all in this predicament of COVID-19

  5. Dear Hatzaddik Dr. Lebovits,
    This letter seems to address the singular issue of visiting elderly parents. What about opening schools and the rest of the economy with certain protections to those under 60? It seems that the situation has BARUCH HASHEM plateaued over the last two weeks. What is the game plan here. Are we staying home forever???
    Looking for a logical game-plan

  6. This is what I see. I’m not a doctor or a scientist but hopefully a person with some common sense.

    Everyday the studies change the numbers. They go up, they go down.

    Now it looks like cities across the world who shut down have no air pollution and their numbers are falling, correlating with sattelite photos.

    Does that mean the Zinc is allowing more clean air to enter the cells. Some say it’s the nitrogen that enters (air is 78% nitrogen and 22% oxygen). We crank up the oxygen ventilators and some say turn the volume down, it can do more harm then good.

    And now, Yitzchak ben Israel out of Tel Aviv University and on the board of Teva pharaceuticals, just put out a study of the eight countries and cities with the highest rates of infection, some with quarantine in place and some not. His conclusion: Quarintine or not the results are exactly the same: The virus peaks at 6 weeks and declines at week 8.

    So now I’m completely confused. The politics around this is confusing enough. Who can we trust? US data says people who died in the statistics may not have had COVID-19 at all, they are mixed in the statistics, just severe underlying conditions and age factors. The tests apparently are also not as accurate as we’re told.

    Do we rely on the Bill of Rights, written by people of faith, and pray and rely on segulas, altruism and hishtadlut or the Phil of Lefts who basically wants to lock us all up. I think Dr. Victor Zelensky, not coincidentally an orthodox jew, has the best results with the Hydrochloraquine, Z-Pack and Zinc. Obviously he is a man of faith and has done his hishtadlut. I don’t think he is lucky or wants to profit from this in profit or prestige.

    I believe this has become all about politics and money under the guise of saving lives. Confusion and panic is not good for democracy but good for those who seek domination and prestige.

    I would hope Hashem will clean this whole thing up but we have do our hishtadlut, the same as any other contagious illness. Keep distance, wash hands, keep surfaces clean, but play G-d by issuing commandments to create poverty on top of death? That is beyond the pale.

    • Ron – Are you implying that Dr Lebowitz is in it for the money or that he’s misinformed?

      If you’re confused by the contradicting reports you read online this is not the place to saw confusion in other’s minds. The directives are crystal clear. Stay home until the Sofek Pikuach Nefesh is over.

      • I never mentioned the good Dr. Leibowitz or implied anything that YOU INFERRED. BTW. I know the directives I’m a contractor for FEMA. I take my health directives from my PCP, thank you. BTW, to avoid confusion and be crystal clear, Jaxonite was a company that made heat resistant plastics over 60 years ago. No worries I believe the trademark expired.

  7. i would like to comment that we have an elderly family member on a respirator since right after purim, *just came off yesterday BH) and is still testing COVID positive everyday. so although we do not know how it spreads or if shedding means its still contagious, it is still present more than a month later. my nephew who had confrimed postive and wanted to donate plasma (also got it purim) is still testing positive. . everyone needs to heed the words of the medical community. and when they say they know nothing, it means you need to be extra vigilant, not make a mockery of it. Its pikuach nefesh. I have seen FIRST HAND well meaning children move in to care for parent(s) when they had the virus themselves as did the parent. and RL the parent died. the risk is too great.

  8. Dr Lebowitz – We all must heed your words until we know otherwise based on data because there is a sofek pikuach nefesh, but I was hoping when I read this that you would be writing the facts about coronavirus that are causing people to get help TOO LATE and thereby end up in the hospital and in critical condition such as:

    1. If you have any symptoms of coronavirus (coughing, weakness, fever, etc) you must err on the side of cautino and assume its coronavirus until you are tested

    2. Early intervention is KEY!!! The virus starts with regular virus symptoms but slowly impacts and infects the body more and more and more. (pneumonia, lung infections and then later organ failure cv). People tend to think they are getting better and then realize a day later that they are suddenly much worse rl!

    3. Dont assume you know if oxygen levels are low! — ALways check them frequently with a pulse oximeter

    4. Dr. Zelenko’s cocktail of medications have saved lives for peope who were candidates for it (it has a small risk for some heart conditions) — Contact a doctor for meds early! before the body starts to shut down

    5. Other medications are seeing positivie results in trials such as remdisivir and Ivermectin

    6. weakness could be a sign of underlying issues — don’t just wait out the virus — constantly confer with a medical doctor who is moniforing you and not just telling you to stay home!!

    7. best home remedies seem to be: zinc, lemon, hot drinks, hot steam, quercitin, garlic

  9. I forgot to add ginger and ginger juice in my comment above because coronavirus causes inflammation and ginger is an anti-inflammatory. Please spread my important comment to as many people across the globe as you can!!!! May we hear good news very soon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Yes, raw ginger makes a great “tea”, just add boiling hot water to diced ginger root and let it sit.
      I felt much better after starting to drink that, and it tastes good to.

    • Quercetin is can potentially block the Entry of the virus/act as a zinc ionophore and also provide anti inflammatory effects inhibiting the cytokine storm caused by the virus. That’s why I consider it essential along with zinc against Covid19. I’ve written extensively in another forum. It may or may not work but it’s the best home remedy at the moment in my opinion.

  10. It is very important to monitor the oxygen levels of any person sick from covid-19. If low oxygen levels are detected early, it can be treated and prevent the situation from becoming very serious ch’v. The sooner it is treated, the better the outcome. Unfortunately, some people think that if they are ill with the virus, they have no choice but to suffer and wait for it to pass and not intervene in any way. DON”T DO THIS!!! It is IMPERATIVE to monitor oxygen levels!! Covid-19 usually begins with a fever but in many cases, after a few days begins affecting the lungs. This then effects the oxygen levels – EVEN if the patient does not experience any difficulty breathing. Oxygen levels can be easily monitored using a pulse-ox. Low oxygen that is caught EARLY can usually be treated at home with medication and / or any oxygen machine. Please pass on this important message to anyone who may not be aware.

  11. Firstly, I’d like to thank Dr. Lebowitz for his caring. His letter is important and should be taken to heed.
    Unfortunately, there are too many self proclaimed “experts” who have no medical knowledge, yet they state and cite things they have read on the internet. It is so possible to interpret things or muddle what you see on the internet to the point of confusing people. And if even one person, is convinced that he or she is kept in quarantine for “political reasons,” then that person could conceivably be putting others at risk (especially their own family).
    Please listen to Dr. Lebowitz. His only agenda is to encourage us to stay safe. He is on the front lines of this.
    Others, whose words are confusing, and even rambling, can actually cause harm. There are those who actually thrive on controversy, and they may sound convincing to some. But not every letter needs to be indiscriminately published. We all know that words are powerful and can influence others, even to the point of disaster..
    The Rebbeim and Drs. in Lakewood have made it clear that this is a matter of life and death and have urged us to stay home.
    There is no room for irresponsible and confusing statements by others who claim to be “in the know.”
    Each of us here in Lakewood probably know, or know of, someone who has succumbed to this virus.These families no longer fall prey to ambiguous statements, letters or articles. These families do not equivocate.They say TAKE NO CHANCES, no matter how negligible it may seem at the time. They don’t want others to suffer their fate.
    I’m sure that those who question the good Dr.’s words don’t mean to cause harm to others–but that could be exactly what ends up happening. This is a time for humility and humbleness as Hashem has shown us.
    Please, please, stay safe, stay healthy, stay home! We will all emerge from this in the proper time–and that time has not yet come!
    I wish you all continued good health if you have it, and a refuah sheleima to those who need it.
    This my one and only letter. I have never written before. I shy away from controversy. This is quite a departure for me. I want nothing more than to see my brothers and sisters well and healthy. Please take this with the altruistic intentions that moved me to write.Be well, all!

  12. You don’t need clear data and facts when people are dying. You stay home until the virus ends if theres even a chance that it could save even one life. This is a new virus and data changes everyday so everything will remain uncertain for a while. We don’t have to decidde anything for ourselves thats why we have daas Torah and thats all we need when theres a situation of pikuach nefesh. We are very fortunate to be Yidden and have this gift of daas torah. Lets just follow it and save lives and gain merits!

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