Why I Wear A Mask | Dr. Daniel Roth

The prevailing “minhag” in Lakewood seems to be to not wear a mask in public — not in Shul and not in stores. Despite clearly posted signs in many stores requiring masks upon entry, the visitor who enters will witness a disconnect – employees and customers alike are not wearing masks.

I personally experienced COVID-19 illness manifest by cough and fatigue, with a positive Covid test and high levels of resultant antibodies. I was one of the privileged community members who was able to donate convalescent plasma to aid in the treatment of the seriously ill. B”H, Lakewood has seen a dramatic reduction in people testing positive for the virus and no obvious cases of serious illness. So why the worry or concern about a mask?

Epidemiologists explain that the transmission of a pandemic in communities will wax and wane, depending upon community behavior. _An increase in illness is likely, when people relax their guard and interact socially without restrictions._ This resurgence in cases has already occurred in many cities and states.

But maybe Lakewood is different because so many people were infected! Lakewood did in fact have a terribly high incidence of COVID-19 disease, and that is probably why we have not seen many new cases. Most people are currently immune to reinfection, and new cases that enter the community are not spreading….at least for now.

However, there is concern that immunity will wane (as seen in studies that antibody levels diminish significantly with time, as early as 2-3 months after illness), and people may possibly become reinfected in the future. We have not seen this reinfection problem happening in any significant way (yet) and most repeat positive testing for COVID-19 weeks and months after illness are due to dead viral particles that are detected by the sensitive PCR test. Even if reinfection were not a concern and people reexposed to COVID-19 would simply fend off the infection rapidly or have a mild illness and maybe even get a booster of their immunity to this virus, we do not know for certain that they are not vectors of transmission during that time of reinfection (i.e., be able to infect others during the days after repeat exposure).

However, even more important, is the presence of significant numbers of people in Lakewood who never were ill with COVID-19, especially the elderly and vulnerable who were cloistered and quarantined and are now reentering society. There are still Covid-positive cases moving around New Jersey and even in Lakewood. So you may say “just let the elderly and vulnerable wear a mask and everyone else can go about life normally.” However, *the most effective method to stop disease transmission and spread is for BOTH the transmitter and possible receiver to wear a mask.* A mask dramatically reduces the respiratory droplets from the Covid-positive person wearing the mask from reaching others. Although the mask also protects the one who wears a mask from respiratory droplets from others speaking to and around them without a mask, it does not do so effectively, unless the listener wears N95 masks or full personal protective equipment (PPE). Also, 40% of transmission of COVID-19 illness is felt to be from asymptomatic persons who may be transmitters without ever realizing it.

Therefore, aside from the obvious state mandate to wear a mask in public indoors (stores, Shuls), it behooves anyone, especially one who has not already experienced COVID-19 illness, to wear a mask indoors, not only to protect himself, but to prevent the spread of disease that could eventually lead to the death of others. There should not be any stigma or social pressure for someone not to wear a mask. The more that responsible people wear masks, the more people, who really need to wear masks, will feel comfortable in public wearing masks.


Concern for others and Ahavas Yisroel will hopefully engender rachmei shamayim and help bring the geula.

Daniel Roth, MD

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  1. So well said. Whether you agree with masks or not, wearing one is a clear act of chessed and respect for our fellow human. Surely that has an impact in shamayim during these 3 weeks.

  2. It’s great that you want to wear a mask, but people like me , who have low oxygen and circulation issues cannot wear a mask. A mask is actually dangerous and causing many lung infections . So if you feel you need to follow the crowd like a bunch of sheep, keep your muzzle on forever , cause this shenanigan won’t end . But don’t tell the rest of the world that wants to use their own brains , and keep their freedom , to wear a mask.

    • So basically you at the exact type of person that the author was referring to… I will say it far less kindly than the author. You are a selfish person who only thinks of themselves. If your oxygen level is low and have circulation issues, you probably shouldn’t be running around yourself right now. Also, the proper masks won’t hamper your breathing.

      Oh, and better to be a sheep that can avoid predators than a dominant predator that is ultimately toppled by a rival.

    • @let us be free. The second half of your statement demonstrates that the first half is probably a bubeh maasah. You have neither daas torah nor science to back up your assertion that of what supposedly your own brain is telling you.
      Dr. Roth is probably responsible for saving countless lives. Without him, 75% of Lakewood would have gotten Covid instead of the current projection of 40-50%. That would have been 25% more korbanos (and No – not “everyone” in Lakewood had it)

    • If you have oxygen issues then by all means you probably shouldn’t wear a mask (with direction from your doctor, of course).
      But what does any of that have to do with freedom??

    • “It’s great that you want to open schools for regular people but Down’s Syndrome people like me will never enjoy it.”

      Umm.. if you think you have a legitimate medical reason why YOU cannot wear a mask, great. But why trumpet your personal issues and patronize those of us who aren’t as selfish as you?

  3. To “Let is be free”:
    You could not have read through the entire article if you wrote that. You probably read the title and skimmed through some of it.
    Read through it before you comment.
    It was written for people like you.
    (As an aside, the virus is most dangerous for people who have compromised respiratory function Such as yourself…all the more reason for you specifically to wear a mask. If the mask causes you infection, stay home.).

  4. Simple statement with ALL due respect.
    Most of Lakewood Gedolim and Rabonim who we follow for guidance , lead us with their das torah,are NOT wearing masks in Shuls.
    Thank you

  5. @let us be free- as someone who has an unnamed condition that causes low oxygen levels and circulation problems, I imagine you would be the first to be in real trouble if you would catch Covid 19. Just based on my personal experience watching my patients gasp and struggle to breathe without effective treatments yet available for this virus..

  6. I tried this too for the same reason, and I lasted about 2 tefillos in shul before I was just way too embarrassed when people more than twice my age were going to shul without any mask in close proximity to others. It needs to be a movement. Mi La’hashem Ayli!

  7. TO: Let us be free:
    DR. Roth is one of the most active and knowledgeable doctors in our community and has been giving sound advice since March. He is from the top doctors in NJ and possibly the country. So before you start talking use your brains and realize that he is trying to help. Just by the way, Rav Asher Weiss in conjunction with Chemed and not to mention the CDC all say exactly what DR. Roth is saying.

  8. Okay we had this discussion enough and enough politics and machloikes happened because of this mask controversy. Nobody is changing their opinion anymore, so let us just leave it and live and let live!!!!!

  9. If you are nearly the only one wearing your mask, are you truly protecting anyone? Wouldn’t a return Chas Vesholom of the virus be spread by those who aren’t wearing a mask? Is there any study showing that one individual in a room with a mask will protect anyone?
    I don’t think so. That’s why I don’t wear a mask. I do commend your attempt to protect others.

    • Here’s the lomdus:
      1. If he’s the one in room infected than it will help a great deal to protect others.
      2. The main point is that he shouldn’t be the only one in the room with it.
      How about I’ll be second and you be third…

    • I am personally familiar with a case where one person who traveled from an infected area attended an event with 50-60 people, infected several dozen of his friends, and 2 of them subsequently died.

      If he would have worn a mask, they would be alive today. He will take those memories with him to the grave.

      Wear a mask. It can make the biggest difference in the world.

  10. Thank You doctor well said. I don’t know but I’m not comfortable with the situation in our town especially in shuls, we have alot of visitors from other states and countries back in town. I see a load of Israeli meshluchim back.

    Other out of town communities have very strict enforceable policies about out of town visitors, why are we different? If anything we should be stricter. We suffered and lost enough, we aren’t ready for more RL.

    Where are our Manhigim? Dr? Askonim?

    A proud Lakewooder

  11. If studies are showing that the antibody levels are lowered significantly after a short amount of time, then what use will a vaccine be if a vaccine’s goal is to create antibodies?
    Thank you.

    • Good question. I have 2 suggestions:
      1. The vaccine can give antibodies long enough to eradicate the virus. If enough people are vaccinated, the virus wouldn’t spread anymore and will disappear.
      2. There will have to be periodic vaccines as with the flu.

      • In regard to your second point, no one is going to take a vaccine every three months. The flu vaccine is only given once a year.
        In regard to your first point, you are not going to get one hundred percent of the population to take the vaccine. This vaccine is only being tested in people 18 years and older. Why would someone let their child take a vaccine that has not been tested in their age group?
        Also people with health issues – respiratory, heart, etc – are also excluded from the studies.

  12. For those of you who are interested, please google “An Inconvenient Covid Truth.” (Dr. Andrew Kaufman)
    Believe it or not, no one has identified for sure if coronavirus is actually a virus!

  13. With all due respect Dr., many physicians, nurses, and clinicians in the very hospital you are affiliated with do not agree with you nor do they practice what you are suggesting.

    I am sure you are a wonderful eye doctor and clearly a baal chesed as you explained you are by choosing to wear a mask. However, it is unfair to portray this mask wearing as an act of chesed and put the onus on the non mask wearers as if they are wrong.

    Perhaps those more vulnerable should become baalay chesed and choose to not yet go out rather then go wherever they want expecting others to be concerned for them.

    Perhaps we should see this for what it is – a political stunt – rather then any real sakonas nefoshos anymore. It is so obvious how the positive cases is only because of more testing and because every positive test results in more funding. The death rate is less then 4% (140K out of 3.7Mil – according to the CDC) from those positive reported cases and hospitals today get between $10,000 and $25,000 per reported covid death. Quite ironic how we have not heard anybody (yup – not 1 person) die from cancer or diabetes these last few months when for years they were the 2 leading causes of death.

    Perhaps shutting down the country, destroying the economy, keeping people out of Shul, closing yeshivos, denying kids a summer camp because of a 4% fatality rate is not normal and unacceptable.

    Of course every yiddisha neshoma is priceless and we must protect all. However, protecting all is not nor should it be limited to protecting against covid. It must be protecting against all things that are harmful. Veneshmartem meod also applies to mental health, suicide, financial collapse, stress related illnesses, anxiety, sholom bais, and all other forms of health. By excessively focusing on covid and masks rather then facing the hard reality of truth, yet playing the card of Hashem is proud of us, or playing the 3 weeks card is weak and unfair. Besides its not true. We need people to go back to their ways of hachnosas orchim, limud hatorah, hevel pehem shel tinokos shel bais rabon, tiffila btzibbur, hishtadlus beparnasa and all other important ways of life – the greatest being normalcy.

    So, no it is not a bad thing to not wear a mask and yes you should still be careful and considerate about others. Therefore, if you are already socially distancing from others a mask is absolutely not necessary EVEN according to all experts. Be smart, be safe, be aware but don’t be fooled by fake numbers and fake news. After all we are all well aware that as soon as Trump says masks are important and must be worn, or as soon as people all over are seen wearing TRUMP 2020 masks within a few days we will somehow all of a sudden be told masks are bad. (just like the heiliga Dr Fauci told us back in March that masks were useless and we should stop buying them because the people in healthcare needed them.)

  14. There are many more effective ways of doing chesed for example =
    1. Having cold waters at your front yard if you live on busy road
    2. Giving a collector a dollar instead of 25 cents
    3. Sponsee a poor family a summer vacation
    4. Having needy guests for Shabbos
    5. Leaving your washing cup full of water for the next person after you
    6. Giving a Yeshiva bocher a hitch although your worried to get reinfected
    7. Call your grandma in middle of the week (not erev Shabbos when there are millions of calls
    8. Putting away your seforim in Shul
    9. Ect ect ect

  15. In short, even if you have antibodies, wear a mask so that others who may not have antibodies will be comfortable wearing masks as well, thus protecting others who don’t have antibodies from getting sick ch”v.

  16. Didn’t our community suffer enough losses. Our beloved dr And why is this community allowed to to do what they like. They have no respect for the law or doctors. It’s a terrible chillul HaShem.
    I am not proud to be part of this community

  17. Lakewood has not been wearing masks and have not been social distancing for nearly two months now since around Shavuos time.

    There have been very few cases, even less hospitalizations and even less deaths in lakewood due to covid over the last two months.

    The same has been noted in other charedi areas such as in Brooklyn, Monsey and Monroe etc

    Why in world then is there any need to be Matriach the Hamon Am to wear a mask?????

    Those at risk should not social distance. Hashem will NOT punish you for not attending shul and Minyan. There of plenty of chesed volunteers who can assist you in shopping and errands. There is no reason to drive everyone else crazy by making every wear masks

    Dont call me selfish for not wearing one. I’ll call you selfish for expecting the majority to inconvenience themselves just so that you can pick your own peppers

    • That is what I have been saying since the beginning. This virus seems to have a 6-8 week cycle where it runs through an area and then moves on. Look at the data in Spain, Italy, NY, NJ etc.

      According to the letter it would seem that mask wearing will be a new article of clothing needed forever.

  18. @q for the Dr.
    you are absolutely right. The vaccine may help us create antibodies but unfortunately these antibodies will probably only last a short time. That’s why it is all the more reason to wear masks and practice social distancing. If the virus has no host to live in it dies out. I too am uncomfortable in a Shewell. That’s why I choose to daven in the outside minion.

  19. @oy vey
    You don’t know of a single recent cancer death but I do. I will repeat, I PERSONALLY know of recent cancer deaths that were correctly attributed to cancer not covid. It’s pretty arrogant of you to decide that because you haven’t heard of any cancer deaths, there must not have been any. There were. And no one said they were covid. See, there’s a world outside of yours and people know things that you don’t.

  20. Let me tell you a good reason not to be wearing a mask – According to some studies and doctors – antibodies are fading quickly.. You need to keep those antibodies strong, by getting exposed on a daily basis to the virus you will continue having high levels of Antibodies! There needs to be a plan to get rid of this virus just slowing it down and having those infected reinfected is going to be an endless battle – vaccines are very likely only going to work as much as antibodies do – only a few months. Either we let everyone get slammed with the virus in one shot so enough people have the antibodies at the same time or at least those who have antibodies we make sure they don’t fade away. So all those who have antibodies Please keep the masks off!!

    • Askan4Trouble-You poor thing, you clearly have no clue how the immune system works. “Getting exposed daily” wow, I don’t even have words aside from this WEAR the MASK. Stop being so selfish.

  21. Masks are designed to block out bacteria, not viruses. Cloth masks are completely ineffective And can cause infection. If wearing a mask is just about security theater, I’m not interested in playing along. I get claustrophobic wearing a mask. There is no scientific justification to force others to muzzle their mouths with a face diaper. All the toxins you exhale while wearing a mask will be inhaled back in. It’s NOT SAFE for anyone to be wearing masks.

    • As a healthcare professional, I can assure you that masks protect against BOTH bacteria and viruses. I’d love to know where you came up with the idea that mask only block out bacteria. It’s time for your schools to start teaching REAL science.

      • Just wondering which part of your schooling as a healthcare professional taught you about how masks work?

        I’m not disagreeing with you, I’m just wondering why you being a healthcare professional means that you know the science of masks?

        You sound like an eye doctor giving an opinion on infectious disease

        • Abe-I’m an Advanced Nurse Practitioner that specializes in Infectious Disease. Numerous studies going back to the 1980s have proven that mask offer a reasonable amount of protection. New England Journal of Medicine, the Lancet, the IDSA etc.

    • Please do not post blatant medical falsehoods. It is established science that masks prevent respiratory droplets from being released into the air, protecting others from a viral infection you may be carrying.

  22. @david,
    How long have you been in this community. Let me explain something about this community. It is not run by doctors or news outlets and for a good reason. We have hundreds of years of history knowing how a Torah community is run. Doctors were not the central focus. They have a job to do like me and you. It especially worrisome when they dictate everyone’s coming and going g and whether they should or shouldn’t go to shul. They sometimes have the task of advising g an individual if he has been told to consult them. They definitely do not dictate public Jewish policy and definitely not when it is unsolicited.
    David, wear yo it r mask or not…the pride of this community is in the Bais Medrash not in Newsrooms, Law offices or Colleges of Medicine

  23. It was made in a laboratory[coronavirus]in Wuhan China!
    why do u think trump will stop funding to WHO/cdc
    “Dr” Fauchi lied plenty of times.

  24. So many armchair health officials and tin foil hat enthusiasts.

    Wear a mask. If you choose not to, don’t cry to Hashem when someone close to you dies.

  25. If we cared so much about how we put others under pressure we would stop building ourselves multimillion dollar homes full of every luxury possible.it puts our friends under pressure and shtechs our non Jewish neighbors (some of the more gaudy ones were recently featured in the Asbury Park Press under the headline Lakewood goes lux, no doubt causing the much feared eiva

  26. I’ve actually asked my own Dr. who I trust and respect highly and he pointed out the many issues with mask wearing.

    First, masks actually catch germs and bacteria.

    Second, it lowers oxygen intake which lowers the immune system.

    Third, breathing out a virus and rebreathing it back in strengthens the viral load of any virus youre carrying.

    Fourth, breathing in the carbon dioxide youve breathed out under a mask for long lengths of time is simply dangerous. The levels of carbon dioxide are dangerously unsafe.

    I’ve heard many, many reliable, knowledgeable and experienced Drs echo these concerns and disagree with the effectiveness and safety of wearing masks.

    Maybe we can each be allowed to follow our own Drs?

    When oh when are people going to stop judging others and allow each person to do as they see fit?

    I hold every single dr accountable for furthering this idea that there is one right way. There isnt as you can clearly see from the fact that there are different opinions.

  27. Done-You wear the mask to protect ME and I wear the mask to protect YOU. So yes I’ll continue judging your for your selfishness. Seems that the majority of you don’t understand that basics of living in a civilized society. Of course, if I don’t look or act like you my live doesn’t matter.

    • how about you wear a hazmat suit to protect you & I’ll wear whatever I want since I don’t believe junk science that I can get it again.

      You get to choose how YOU live your life. I get to choose mine.

      • Me-Seems your parents denied you a decent education. It’s not junk science, the virus is novel (new) and nobody know if you’ll have immunity. What happened to being respectful of other peoples lives? I’m glad you recovered, however not everyone will be fortunate like you.

    • Actually, I dont need to so do what hurts me and harms myself to protect you.

      My life comes first. After that, I’d be happy to do what’s for the good of others, as I always do. I happen to be a kind and caring person.

      Thats a basic of living in civilized society actually.

  28. Actually, I dont need to so do what hurts me and harms myself to protect you.

    My life comes first. After that, I’d be happy to do what’s for the good of others, as I always do. I happen to be a kind and caring person.

    Thats a basic of living in civilized society actually.

    • If you have difficulty breathing the mask you’ll definitely have difficultly breathing with COVID. I’ve seen plenty of you gasping on ventilators. If you don’t like the mask, you’ll hate the ventilator. Signed-Your respiratory therapist

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