AIPAC Says Group of Attendees at Conference May Have Had Prior Exposure to Coronavirus


Yeshiva University, which closed its Washington Heights campus and its affiliated boys high school yesterday because a student there had been diagnosed with coronavirus, announced today that two students had tested negative for the disease.

“Some good news. Two tests of students who were considered at risk due to proximity [to the infected classmate], including roommate, came back negative,” Rabbi Ari Berman, YU president, stated in a Twitter message.

The student who had tested positive for coronavirus was part of a New Rochelle family, several members of which are in quarantine because they too tested positive.

Meanwhile, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee said some attending its policy conference in Washington earlier this week were “potentially in contact prior to the conference with an individual who contracted coronavirus.”

“The group has been added to the self-quarantine list,” AIPAC said in a notice sent to the 19,000 people who attended the conference at the Washington Convention Center. “We have been told by the DC Health Department there is no reason to sound the alarm … To our knowledge, no one who attended the conference has tested positive for coronavirus at this time.”

At least three Passover travel programs – two in Italy and one in Thailand — have been cancelled because of concern over the virus, JTA reported. Others are keeping a wary eye on the situation.

Jewish Insider reportered that a Jewish school in Baltimore sent home three students who may have had “indirect contact” with a member of the Westchester family. Nefesh B’Nefesh, which promotes immigration to Israel, canceled a March 15 aliyah fair in New Jersey, citing general concerns.

In Elizabeth, N.J., an Orthodox leader announced that a member of the faculty of the Jewish Educational Center schools there attended the Feb. 23 funeral that members of the Westchester family also attended. The faculty member will not return o school until after a quarantine period, Rabbi Pinchas Shapiro, executive vice president of the JEC, wrote in an email.

In addition, he wrote, a number of members of the Elizabeth Orthodox community attended a bat mitzvah on Feb. 23 where members of the Westchester family were also in attendance. “None of these individuals have presented with symptoms and none have exhibited any signs of illness,” wrote Shapiro, adding “they are considered low-risk. There is no reason at this time to assume that there has been any exposure or risk as a result of contact with these individuals.”

The Anti-Defamation League, which warned last month about the spread of anti-Jewish conspiracy theories related to the virus, repeated the alert this week after the father of the Jewish family in New Rochelle was hospitalized with the disease and various Jewish institutions closed down as a result.

“We’re seeing stuff online,” Evan Bernstein, vice president of the ADL’s Northeast Division, told “We’re getting more and more reports of those comments. People want to put the blame on minority groups.”

A 32-year-old resident of Fort Lee, NJ, across the Hudson River from Manhattan, became New Jersey’s first person to test positive for the coronavirus. State officials hadn’t determined whether the New Jersey man’s illness was linked to any of the cases in New York.

At last count, 159 people in the country are known to have contracted the virus that has killed over 3,200 worldwide.