The Vulnerable Can Wait
Vaccinate the super-spreaders first
He was one of 750,000 people, give or take, who passed through Grand Central Terminal that day. He worked as an attorney in a high-rise on 42nd Street that had direct access to the station, where trains departed every few minutes to 122 towns in New York and Connecticut. He and his wife ran a small firm, specializing in estate law, on the 47th floor of the building; he spent his hours there helping people negotiate death. At the end of the workday on Friday, Feb. 21, the man made his way to the platforms for the New Haven line, boarded a train, and rode 30 minutes north to a commuter town in Westchester County called New Rochelle. At that moment, there were 34 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States, all of them linked to international travel.
The next day, the man went to his synagogue, Young Israel of New Rochelle, as he did every Saturday. He and his wife had four children, though only two lived with them at the time—a son who went to college in Manhattan and a daughter who was still in high school. Despite the demands of his job, he was a family man, someone who was as eager to play Connect 4 with his kids as write a brief for whatever big case upon which he was working. His house was close to Young Israel, within the boundaries of the eruv, a symbolic perimeter identified by telephone poles, power lines and other landmarks. Inside the eruv, some rules of the sabbath are relaxed, as if the whole neighborhood were a communal home.
The man was back at the synagogue at 11 the next morning for a funeral. Hundreds of congregants turned out to honor a Holocaust survivor who had died the day before at age 93. That afternoon, some of them returned to Young Israel for a joint bar and bat mitzvah. As the children played, the man and the other adults chatted, ate hors d'oeuvre and drank cocktails. During the two events, health officials later estimated, the man came into contact with between 800 and 1,000 people.
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