Letter from Dr. Daniel Roth

Dr. Daniel Roth submitted the letter below to TLS.

Dear Fellow Yidden!

Despite the surge of COVID-19 cases in our community recently, widespread caution seems lacking. Many people feel that they are not at risk. They feel this either because

• they already had it, or because
• they are willing to take the risk of getting sick, or because
• they don’t think that masks help stop the spread of COVID-19.

I will debunk all three of these myths.

If one has tested positive for COVID-19 or experienced classic COVID-19 symptoms, one is unlikely to become infected with COVID-19 again in the following 3 months. However, as antibodies wane, reinfections are possible and this has been documented to occur in the US and in our own community. The second infection can occasionally be even more severe than the first.

But you may say “I am not worried about that minority of cases. Millions of people had COVID-19 and only a handful of cases of reinfection have occurred!”

First, reinfection is more likely the farther we are from initial illness and as the first wave of March and April illness becomes more distant in time, the more common becomes reinfection. Second, even if one does not become sick from a second exposure to the coronavirus, it is possible that one will transmit virus to others from one’s airways during the hours or days that one’s immune system is busy clearing the virus.

Therefore, THE MOST IMPROTANT REASON TO PRACTICE CAUTION is our mutual responsibility to one another. Kol Yisroel areivim zeh lazeh. If you choose to take on personal risk, that is an issue that affects only you. If that risk is acceptably low to you, at times it may be permissible to incur risk for the sake of mitzvos and parnassa or if one relies on “shomer psa’im Hashem.” However, when behavior puts others at risk, either directly or indirectly, it is a violation of ve’ahavta l’reacha kamocha and reflects an insensitive callousness to dismiss the repercussions of our behavior on others who may be more vulnerable to infection. Much of the transmission of this virus is among people who are not sick and do not even know that they have COVID-19. They talk to friends, colleagues or even family and “share” their viral particles with someone else. That person then unknowingly may expose another person, who is more vulnerable to the virus and may suffer severe illness and/or death. The first person in this transmission chain may never be aware of the damage of that social contact (until 120 years!).

It is the responsibility of every person to protect your friends, neighbors, and family by:

• Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth at all times when you are indoors not in your own home.
• Staying 6 feet away from people not in your immediate family.
• And washing your hands after touching communal surfaces.

These are the tools at our disposal in our hishtadlus for keeping the virus away.
You don’t want to find out after 120 years that you were part of any chain of transmission of this virus. You will not be able to say, after 120, “I did everything I could,” unless you do those 3 things until we have a vaccine and you receive that vaccine.

There are claims being circulated that masks don’t help and that masks even cause disease! Whether politically motivated or for the sake of shedding the inconvenience of masking, these are falsehoods. The viral particles may be smaller than can be blocked by masks, but it is about the ability to block respiratory droplets because the virus travels within respiratory droplets. It is well documented how masks prevent transmission of infection. There is no operating room in the world that would allow a surgeon to operate without a mask. There are no cases of respiratory collapse from mask wearing and if someone needs fresh air, of course they can go outside or to an isolated area and get a deeper breath of fresh air.

Furthermore, universal masking is a likely intervention to keep our batei midrashim, schools and shuls open and functioning, which is so vitally important to all of us and to the Jewish people.
Why should we feel so entitled that we cannot endure a little discomfort in wearing a mask in order to reduce the spread of this very contagious disease? How pampered and spoiled are we that we don’t have the desire to take care of each other? Do we really believe that masks don’t have an impact when the vast majority of health experts recommend universal mask wearing as a critical method in staving off deaths and predict that mask wearing will save tens of thousands of lives if worn in public this winter?

I submit to each individual to exercise a personal soul-searching to decide how they want to face Hashem with their reaction to this pandemic. We are not expecting everyone to line up to be front-line workers caring for the ill, and tremendous hakaros hatov goes to all those who do so. However, did I do whatever I could within my reasonable ability to try to prevent the death of my brethren while this pandemic is still raging in our midst?

May our tefilos to Hashem to end the mageifa coupled with our concern for one another by practicing our required hishtadlus in areas of health (v’nishmartem meod l’nafshoseichem) bring yeshuos to klal Yisroel.

Daniel Roth, MD

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    • You mean opthamologist, and a world renowned retina specialist. (If you don’t know the difference you can’t have a medical opinion. Sorry.) And an incredible talmid chacham, mechaber seforim, and someone who learned a lot of stuff in medical school besides opthamology that you definitely didn’t. Just saying.

  1. Brilliant letter Dr Roth!!!
    HaShem sees EVERYTHING that we do and, as Dr Roth rightly points out, we will have to face all the consequences of our wrong doings!

  2. I find it interesting that anyone not who does not agree with the doctor about masks is for sure wrong and probably politically motivated. Science is something that always changes so he can’t say for sure that masks help plus there are a whole bunch of doctors who say masks do not help. They gave a press conference this week on the steps of the Supreme Court in DC. Maybe this doctor is politically motivated?

  3. Thank you Dr Roth for caring about the community and for putting out letters that are truthful despite push back from selfish people who try to undermine the experts that have the data backing their words.
    We need more doctors coming out and warning our community there is so much dishonest information out there that many people are more then happy to accept, spread around and believe as it helps them push away their reality so they can live in their own bubble.
    Fellow Yidden we lived through this once we saw the tehillim lists and names of people we knew that died, we heard and likely all know of even healthy people that got very sick. How can push away reality that we lived through???. Wake up – be smart – be careful and care for each other!
    Its not impossible we need to be patient till there is a safe vaccine!!

  4. I’m not getting involved in this discussion but I do also think that the (top) doctors in Lakewood be in touch with Rabbonim so “we the people” can know exactly what to do. Also, I would like to comment that Dr Roth is a very smart person and Doctor and has a tremendous heart and he’s done tremendous chesed in the medical field for members of the community and he is definitely very entitled and qualified to voice his valuable opinion. Thank you Dr Roth

  5. 100% right – unfortunately people in our community have died of the second wave as well. One of them I knew but unfortunately the shul he davened in did not practice serious policies of social distance or face covering etc.at all this time around after knowing what happened the first time around. How can they say our hands did not spill his blood? So sad on so many levels.

  6. Horav Dr. Daniel Roth, shlita, is a renowned retinologist and a mechaber seforim.
    A retinologist is a subset specialty. In other words, optometrists can help with glasses plus some other things. When the optometrist realizes the issue is beyond him, he refers you to an opthamologist. When the opthamologist sees an issue beyond him, he refers you to a retinologist. R’ Doniel is a renowned retinologist.
    He is also a tremendous Oheiv Yisroel and does all he can and thensome for the benefit of the Klall.
    Put it all together and you have a Talmid Chochom concerned about the Klall using his expert skills to inform the Klall how to deal with this pandemic.
    He is my personal Posek Acharon in all matters related to my eyes AND covid-19.
    With great respect,
    Shalom Storch

  7. Mask wearing is probably helpful – it’s not clear at this point if it is very helpful or only somewhat helpful. The problem is, though, that mask-wearing distracts people from doing true prevention and makes them feel too secure and reliant on the ‘protection’ from the mask. Much more important is taking zinc, vitamin D (and vitamin C ) etc. and hand washing. as preventatives.

    If the TRUE preventions and treatments (there are a number of successful treatments available – do your research and ignore the lies being spread for political reasons) were implemented, there would be much fewer cases, much fewer severe cases and much fewer deaths.

    • @jm: and YOUR medical credentials are???? they seem to be missing from your post. leave the medical advice dispensing to the ones that spent years in medical school studying how the complex human body really works

    • hi .can you please explain how a virus that is 400 times smaller than the pores. wholes . of the mask.
      and the mask is not sealed on the face ,so the virus has 360 degrees to go
      in the air and contaminated others. thank you.

  8. Thank you Dr Roth. These are things that need constant Chizuk. We should all learn from you to be Mechazek our brethren and do all we can to stop the spread of this disease.

    On a side note, causing deaths should of course be our ultimate concern. However people should also be aware that there is a tremendous amount of suffering caused by the illness, even for those who are BH out of danger. I know this first hand because although I’m young, I’m weeks into this dreaded virus and not out of the woods yet. My (local) doctor told me that his office has hundreds of patients who are still suffering from various symptoms since March. Only an uninformed person would take the risk of catching or spreading the virus.

    May Hashem protect us all, and send a Refuah Sheleima Bekarov to those who need it.

  9. If it’s possible and even common to get re infected, then 1) What is the end game? and 2) How can a vaccine work?

    Also, besides for the one 89 year old Dutch woman with end stage cancer, can Dr. Roth point out one case where the second infection was worse than the first? And didn’t Dr. Roth say on the beginning that the only way to stop this was for everyone to lock down for as long as it takes until the virus has no one to infect and just dies out? Something which is obviously not feasible and much more damaging than the virus in the long run?
    Dr. Roth, you are a true tzadik and I have the utmost respect for you but maybe just maybe klal yisrael is on to something and we are the only ones who have it right in a world gone mad? We with our rich history of surviving tzaros after tzaros with our sanity intact and our extreme skepticism of “science” which increasingly demonstrates that it is nothing but a new religion of unproven theories.

    • Klal Yisroel on to something? Who are you kidding?

      I would believe that if I thought there were big chachamim coming out with convincing arguments why we can ignore health guidelines that the medical community and the government insist are critical.

      But instead what we actually have is a lot of people acting with utter hefkerus with all sorts of boich svrores why we can do whatever we want.

      A healthy skepticism of science might be OK, but our skepticism of science is way out of line.

      Isn’t it funny that when someone contracts a heart condition or cancer and runs around looking for all the best doctors in the world for advice, all the skepticism of science falls away. But it is science that underlies all doctors’ techniques and education. And it is science that underlies all the pharmacology that gives us our drugs.

      • I know someone who walked out of an oncologists office after being told by the doctor that her priority isnt to have children. (Btw she had 3 children before she was nifteres.) So yes we run after the best doctors. But when yiddishkeit is involved we run as far away from their ‘crumme’ outlook (No, I am not saying all doctors are ‘crumme’ but guidelines set forth do not take into account yiddishkeit!)

  10. They say there is an increase of positive cases. What I want to know if those people are actively sick, or only tested positive. I want to know if it is as serious as everyone is making it out to be.

    • of course, they will make us take the vaccine anytime we go away, or visit elderly, etc. Or else maybe the vaccine will need to be taken every 14 days! If the immunity from having the disease wanes after a few months, I
      don’t understand how people think the vaccine will cause better immunity than the disease itself!

  11. There have been 34 cases of “reinfection” out of MILLIONS who had presumably tested positive. You have far better chances of winning the lottery!

    Masks ARE causing people to get sick with other stuff that they would normally cough out but now it sits in their throat growing there.

    People ARE developing strange rashes around their mouth, presumable from mask wearing.

    CDC reported recently that 70% of people testing positive wore masks as part of distancing. I know everyone and their liberal democrat momma is trying to debunk it but it is on their site!

    • Regarding the CDC report that you hold shluggs upp the pro-maskers: this is not a groise pelleh at all. What it demonstrates is merely that wearing a mask is NOT SUFFICIENT to protect the wearer UNLESS OTHERS IN HIS VICINITY ARE MASKED AND DISTANCED as well. Unless you’re wearing a properly fitted N95 you’re not well protected from the viruses that noncompliant oiber chochoms are shpayying ois into the air. Do you chapp now? It takes e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e complying in order to prevent the virus from infecting others.

  12. Think long and hard and do your extensive research before testing. There are MANY reasons why NOT to. NOBODY can force you to! Don’t fall into the trap!

    (If you must test for some reason, only do the spit / saliva test. The nasal test returns MANY false positives.)

  13. The vaccine trials are not determining if the vaccine will prevent infection. Their goal is to lessen moderate or mild symptoms. In their trials, participants who are infected with the virus are put into two groups – one group gets the vaccine and the other gets a placebo and they see who has more mild symptoms.

    Thus, I would like to ask the doctor how a vaccine is going to help stop the virus from spreading to others.

    Here are two articles where you can read about this: “These coronavirus trials don’t answer the one question we need to know” and “Covid-19 vaccine protocols reveal that trials are designed to succeed.”

    Please keep this information in mind when the vaccine comes out – this vaccine is being rushed to market. Most vaccines take five to ten years to develop. This one is taking less than a year and using a never before approved for human use technology – mRNA.

    • If someone is already infected with the virus, then how can they be part of a test of a vaccine? Aren’t vaccines supposed to prevent the disease? Are you sure you have your facts right that the participants are first infected, and then get the vaccine? Something sounds wrong here.

  14. @Yankel and any others who feel the same way: I’m sure Dr Roth and all other local medical practitioners would be more than happy to stop taking out our time and effort to advise, beg, scream, and try anything to open people’s eyes to the irresponsibility and selfishness of their actions. If you choose to smoke in your backyard, you risk your own health, but when you walk around town, into Shul, stores, etc. you are spreading whatever germs you have around, and there is A LOT OF COVID around right now. I am seeing a huge surge in the local hospital I work in, where we have admitted more than 50 very sick Frum patients over the past month. For those like me who follow the state updates, there is a steady rise, and where NJ has been at around 300-400 cases a day, it has bumped up since end of September to numbers as high as 1200 a day, and now has been 800-900 daily – the new numbers coming nearly all from this community. So believe me – it’s out there. For a community and mentality of Ushmartem Meod Lenafshosaichem – where people bring in small children for 4 sets of Rabies vaccines – for just possibly being in a house with a bat – very low likelihood of danger, yet we do it – but here where the risk is extremely high, we won’t inconvenience oursleves to wear masks keep distant, etc.To me – I live in 2 worlds: at work where all those who suffer from the choices come in: very weak, short of breath, feeling like garbage; then when I leave, outside : everyone business as usual – chatting with groups of friends, into Shuls, stores, no masks. It’s hard for me to believe or understand. How many people have to get sick and die before the message gets through? Listen to the medical professionals, to the CDC – the experts in the field – and let’s stop being the community who continues to shoot ourselves in the foot.

    • Thank You for so eloquently clarifying the opposition to this mass hysteria that the media and even the CDC is trying to portray and for explaining the reason why so many people feel that all of these mandates are an extreme overreach at this point (not that they are incorrect but rather an extreme overreach) by providing us with some real numbers… Based on the information you provided you say that NJ is averaging 800 – 900 daily cases… let’s take the low number and multiply that by 30 days and you get an average of 24,000 confirmed cases a month most of which are coming from our community… you then said that you have seen more than 50 frum very sick patients admitted to the hospital… doing some quick math that means that over 99.5% of all positive cases are not serious enough to be considered life threating… then you have to consider of those 50 very serious cases how many became serious simply from covid-19 alone without any other serious factors involved such as immunocompromised individuals or elderly etc… and the numbers really become extremely low, indicating that at this time almost everybody should recover…

      Of course I believe that even if 1 person doesn’t recover, even if that person had other issues as well, that’s to many, however after taking some side effects of wearing a mask into account (such as giving elderly people a false sense of security that just by wearing a mask they are safe to resume their life as normal which is causing a lot of elderly people to keep on going out which is causing them to get exposed and contract the virus or by scaring elderly people so much that they are scared to go for their regular doctor visits which is causing severe illnesses that have a proven much higher rate of death that could have been detected earlier, from being detected…) I’m starting to understand some of the opposition

    • check the medical news from England ,from professor david baldwin,
      that a third of patients with lung cancer died since the beginning of the pademic.not the pandemic.

  15. Hi dr roth. My son fainted while wearing a mask for a half hr. So pls take out the line “there are no cases of respiratory collapse from mask wearing” my son is a case.

  16. BS”D
    If a mask keeps the wearer’s respiratory droplets in, it must be keeping other people’s respiratory droplets out.
    The wearer would be protected even if no one else wore a mask.

    If masks work, why aren’t the criminals put back in prison?

  17. He’s saying it like it is with the latest info that’s coming out. Unforunately many bnaiIsrael think they can Posken from Google when they don’t even have a college science degree. In addition there needs to be a much stronger response from rabbanim to follow guidelines. R Asher Weiss R Mustafi. Ryosef. klausenberger rebbe have stated a person who is slack in following govt and local health guidelines are in the category of safek rotzeach.

  18. Dr. Roth is an Ophthalmologist/ Retina Specialist: COVID-19 is not known to directly affect the eyes ; however violent coughing, sneezing can cause retinal detachments (g-d for bit) as the retina is a very thin layer of tissue in the back of the eye near the optic nerve ( some call it part of the brain) of which is sensitive and especially with all of the myopes (very near sighted people with high minus prescription lenses) in our community of which are high risk for retinal detachment .
    I’m Baruch HaShem very mildly myopic I’m down to a -1.50 & a +.75 for close work and a -2.25 for night driving which I keep in my car; so getting back to COVID-19 I was so far infected twice: I had it Back in March quite severely with high fever, chest pains etc of which I was told to drink a-lout to prevent it from reaching my lungs, I didn’t get back to myself 100% till May , than I got reinfected in September of which it was very mild not even a fever , just a sore throat and cold like symptoms & I just got rid of it. And I’m considered high risk too : I suffered a major heart attack 11 years ago, my age, my weight, my blood sugar is on the high side, low blood platelet count, I’m on 7 permanent medications but Baruch HaShem my blood pressure is normal, I work full time, I always wear a mask while around other people & listen to Dr. Roth, he knows

  19. There have been 81 documented ministry of Health 2nd reinfections in Israel alone not to mention asymptomatic who were not tested a second time. There is credible evidence corona damages immunization circulatory nervous systems as experienced by vivid long haulers and we don’t know yet what the result will be. In addition clinical results of corona rhizome showed reinfection of 40 percent of same injected virus after 1 year. Lakewood doctors are reporting reinfections but no clinical data yet. And mutant strains are known to reinfect. Anibodies may last 3 months to a year depending on person . and majority of previous reinfections are asymptomatic. Whoever says I know and one doesn’t have to worry about getting or giving reinfections assyptomatically is playing Russia roulette.

  20. BS”D
    Calling all psychologists.
    Please tell us why doctors are promoting measures against covid that they know are unhealthy, even letting their patients die rather than use Dr. Zelenko’s protocol.
    If your spouse is a doctor, please disclose that.

  21. Well presented, for America but this is the
    wrong town for such views ( correct view for secular leaning listeners)
    Never Going to work for 90% of Lakewood base. ( one reason even though this view is100% correct is that it mimics anti jews liberal media so its been mentality POISONING and associated with draconian lockdown NYC etc. leaders that have killed elderly by CDC earlier hands-off guide lines
    So its just AnosDvorim.Waste of a good sound but OLD polluted advice

  22. Masking may or may not help. But it distracts and gives people a false sense of safety and that together with the politically motivated censoring of the truth deters them from pursuing the true preventions and treatments. And that is a tragedy.

    If you care about your health and the health of your family, do your own open minded research and don’t rely only on masks. Yes, wear a mask so as not to cause a Chillul H-shem but for the health of your family, do your research as to what truly prevents and treats the virus.

  23. BS”D
    Dr. Harvey Risch MD, PhD is a professor of epidemiology at Yale School of Public Health.
    He wrote an article entitled The Key to Defeating Covid 19 is Already Here – We Need to Start Using It.
    Of course, that key is hydroxychloroquine, zinc and arithromycin or doxycycline started early in high risk patients.
    Other doctors have said the same. I have named Dr. Risch and his article here because epidemiology is his specialty and he is a professor at a prestigious medical school.

    • Dr. Zelanko’s protocol was H-shem’s shaliach to save the lives of two close family members who were very ill from Covid. I know many others who took it and were healed also.

      Every person has a choice to believe politically motivated lies about this protocol – or to choose life. I know what we chose – and boy, am I glad that we did!

  24. yasher koach Dr Roth for all you do !
    i recently met a big opthamalogist and mentioned to him im
    from lakewood he asked me if i know Dr Roth i said sure . he the asked me
    do you know hes from the biggest retina specialists in the country and a brilliant man ….. keep up the great work tizkeh lemitzvos !

  25. Dr. Roth your letter is well written and so truthful. May K’lall Yisroel be inspired and motivated by your words to do the right thing so we can at least control this horrible Mageifa.

  26. Dr. Roth you are 100% right. It infuriates me when I see people violating basic human decency rules. As an example a few weeks ago there was a wedding in a large house on Miller Road. Every rule that you just referred to was broken.
    Wishing people would follow rules. Thank you for being the town’s renowned ophthalmologist!

  27. If we are really concerned with infection why don’t we stop using currency as proven in current studies to carry the virus for 28 days disinfect every bathroom we use as studies have shown could be transmitted never use a public bathroom have groceries picked and chosen with employees in PPE wear gloves any time we touch a surface like a door handle a car steering wheel ETC

  28. BS”D
    Thank you so much Just a Thought for using numbers provided by Anonymous Medical Doctor to show that over 99.5% of covid positive “cases” in Lakewood do not need hospitalization.
    Could it be that Anonymous MD thinks the public can’t do
    arithmetic or is it that he can’t?
    It is a relevant question considering that he sometimes calculates dosages.
    Even the less than 0.5% who are hospitalized likely would not be had Dr. Zelenko’s protocol been used.
    Interesting that no letter comes out from Lakewood doctors saying that Zelenko is a moron, Risch is a moron, Immanuel is a moron, American Frontier Doctors are morons, or that they, the Lakewood doctors used the Zelenko protocol on their 70 patients who died from covid but it didn’t work.

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