I am one of the few people in the country who still uses a Blackberry. Last week, all of the sudden, AOL stopped working on my phone. After spending fruitless hours on the phone dealing with AOL, Blackberry, and my phone provider, it was clear I had to get a new phone.

In the letters to the editor in the March 11 Queens Jewish Link, there was the typical letter attacking me. I could spend an article explaining the fallacy of that response, but if I spent time responding to the letters that either take my comments out of context, misconstrue my comments, or make inaccurate factual assertions, I would be spending every column solely responding to letters.

Moshe Hill, who to the best of my knowledge is not an expert in epidemiology, makes the bold assertion (“Take Off The Masks,” QJL 3/18) that “there is no correlation between mask wearing and better results from COVID.” He does not cite any studies. His proof is comparing, as of today, the percentage of deaths from states with mask wearing mandates and those without any mandates. There are some obvious problems with this approach. He assumes that a mandate is the same as mask-wearing and the lack of a mandate means that people are not wearing masks.  He does not distinguish between the death rate before the states put in the mask mandate and the rate after they did.  Also, for Hill, death is the only barometer to determine better results. It is ironic, as it is coming from someone who had COVID last year and wrote about the horrible experience. There are many people who had COVID and are still suffering long-term effects. Thus, the number of cases, as well as deaths, is the correct factor to rely upon in determining the effectiveness and necessity of masks.

Last year we invited two single guys to join us at the Purim seudah (meal). One of them backed out because he was worried about COVID. He was one of the smart ones who realized early on that this is serious. The second person canceled at the last-minute, stating that his relatives were having a meal and he wanted to join them. I will never know whether that was the real reason or if he already might have had COVID, since he died shortly thereafter from the coronavirus. Tragically, he is part of a large group. On Purim 2020 there were 760 reported cases and 23 deaths in the United States. A year later there are 28,554,887 cases and 511,998 deaths. Queens County has the fifth highest number of deaths by county in the country. Right above Queens County is Kings County. The president held a ceremony acknowledging the milestone of 500,000 deaths. I must get used to Biden doing the cross at these events. It is not traditionally done by presidents and it is not something Jewish people do. Nevertheless, in a country where the trend is to be anti-religious, there is something refreshing to seeing its leader use religious symbolism.