Initiative for accurate media reporting in the frum community

    Testing 101

    What are positivity rates and why are we testing?

    Day in, day out we are enjoined to test. First it seemed it was a one-time thing, and now we are starting to be told to test weekly. What is the point and why are we doing it?

    Avi Schnall from Agudath Israel put it this way:

    To put this plainly — if you have 30 positives and 30 negatives, that gives the community a whopping 50 percent positivity rate. No honest government official would allow communal life to continue as usual with this number. But if everyone tested, and the result is 30 positives and 10,000 negatives, the .03 percent is negligible.

    Rabbi Yisroel Reisman expressed a similar sentiment:

    The government in its infinite wisdom is working with positivity rates. Positivity rates means that if 50 people take Covid tests and 5 are positive then 10% are positive. What about the fact that there are 100,000 people in this area? It doesn’t matter. It goes by those who take a test. If we can convince 1,000 people to take tests and 5 are positive, then that is .5% (a half of a percent). Then everything is suddenly good. Then things are better. This is the way the government works.

    Some suggested that the Jewish community were “cooking the books” by having sick people not test[1]. Indeed, the first audio encouraging the Lakewood community to test said expressly that. That sick people should not test[2]. Despite this, Avi Schnall declared, “No one is manipulating the system.”[3] He does seem to be right about that. In the same paragraph he declares that the idea of testing everyone to decrease the positivity rate came from the Health Commissioner Herself! Indeed, her advice is not an aberration. This advice is being doled out from John Hopkins University[4], who has been the premier source of information regarding COVID-19 from day one!

    Not only aren’t we manipulating the numbers, but Governor Murphy is pointing to Lakewood as a Model. In fact, he is calling it “The Lakewood Model”.[5]

    If this all sounds illogical to you and me, and it doesn’t make sense to Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, it’s not likely that this non-sensical approach makes sense to political leaders, health commissioners, and world-renowned epidemiologists.

    It gets even stranger. In New York, schools in so-called “Red-Zones” would only be allowed to open provided that all students were tested prior to reopening and rolling testing on 25% of the student body would need to be tested weekly thereafter. However, antibody tests are not accepted. This is oxymoronic! Antibodies are considered the most superior protection to the disease! It’s what all vaccine makers are striving to accomplish! Compound this with the fact that the CDC states that students who have recently had the virus and have positive antibodies should not test as it’s quite likely that the residual but non-infectious virus will result in a positive test[6]. In addition the FDA states that the rapid tests (given out free to the schools) have a high rate of false positives[7]!

    Obviously then, there is more on the surface than some severely incompetent bureaucrats as Rabbi Yisroel Reisman implies. There is simply too much dysfunction on the surface to dismiss the entire testing drive as arbitrary and irrational.

    There is one missing link that we have not addressed. What could the government get out of testing? It’s clear that they don’t need your testing to understand the burden of the virus as explained in previous articles. Did we attempt to understand the government’s position before we cut a deal to essentially force test tens of thousands of families? It’s simple negotiation skills to understand that if someone wants you to do something, you need to understand why he wants it. To just simply say “this is the way government works” isn’t the leadership demanded here.

    With this backdrop, we can reread Testing, Testing, 1-2-3, and Testing 2.0, and A Dose of Reality to understand some of what is truly at play here. Here, however, instead of digressing to the overall testing agenda, I would like to address a specific concern that can arise as an outcome of increased testing.

    In a recent interview with Avi Schnall, he stated the following

    There have been audio files circulating in which an educated person stating flatly that by testing I am opening myself up to being detained and confined against my will. It sounds strange but I am afraid it may have a kernel of truth.

    Not even that kernel is true. The malicious rumor began from a footnote in literature handed out by the government that anyone who cannot safely isolate at home will be offered — key word: offered — a hotel room to spend their quarantine. It is a government service aimed at easing the stress of isolation, nothing more.

    So yes, the government supplies places for people to stay but it’s not by any stretch the “forced confinement” the people on the audio files are claiming.

    In A Dose of Reality we explored files from the Ocean County Health Department listing isolation and quarantine facilities with no reassurance from the CDC document listed there that they will be used “voluntarily”. As a matter of fact, it discussed the need for “community acceptance” because “Isolation/separation from family members, loss of freedom and personal interactions may require additional psychosocial support structures/systems.” But for those claiming to “live in the world of reality”, the NYS Health Department has an extremely sobering document recently added to their files[8].

    2.13 Isolation and Quarantine Procedures:

    For the purposes of isolation/quarantine orders, isolation locations may include… residential or temporary housing location that the public health authority issuing the order determines appropriate

    If the location of isolation or quarantine is a multiple dwelling structure, that the person shall remain in their specific dwelling and in no instance come within 6 feet of any other person… Such other limitations on interactions with other persons as are appropriate, consistent with any direction that the State Commissioner of Health may issue.

    The State Commissioner of Health: (should) monitor such person to ensure compliance with the order and determine whether such person requires a higher level of medical care. Whenever appropriate, coordinate with local law enforcement to ensure that such person comply with the order. Any person who violates a public health order shall be subject to all civil and criminal penalties as provided for by law. For purposes of civil penalties, each day that the order is violated shall constitute a separate violation of this part.

    As a matter of fact, many of the actions taken in Germany were also allegedly “voluntary”. All were urged to register for their benefit. They would receive bread rations (anyone notice the lines for boxes?) and relocation to better accommodate their needs. When people who are self-proclaimed “public officials[9]” say that any action is voluntary, our antennas should shoot up.

    The interview with Schnall continues:

    What about the government seizing my kids? The person also claimed that if the government gets a hold of the infection rates in schools, they can take the kids away from the parents.

    More falsehood. The government doesn’t even know if your children tested positive in testing done in school. All they get is overall numbers of how many tests were done and what percentage of those tests came out positive.

    The reason the government gets the numbers is just to know how many positive cases there are in each school and which cities are in compliance with guidelines. Take a look at Newark which is now having an uptick in cases. They didn’t do testing so all they have is the 25 percent positive rate and was shut down by the state.

    Once the numbers are in, the government just cares to track how many of them are positive compared to the negatives. They do not care to track which person is positive.

    At this point the onus of proof rests on him. Mr. Schnall has proven that almost every line he says is misleading or flat-out false. In fact, he contradicted himself the week before when he stated; “This is not an issue of the government tracking us; they already have our personal information.” The fact is that as a result of children testing in order to attend school, there have been asymptomatic, but positive results. Reports are already being received of contact-tracers visiting Jewish homes in New York to check out if their house can accommodate as a quarantine, or if they need to be moved out. Yes, this is a conspiracy. But it’s a conspiracy fact, not a theory. And it’s happening right now.


    [1] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/02/nyregion/coronavirus-orange-county-new-york.html

    [2] https://www.thelakewoodscoop.com/news/2020/09/audio-message-from-lakewood-igud-harabanim-for-covid-matters.html

    [3] https://agudah.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/corona.pdf

    [4] https://www.jhsph.edu/covid-19/articles/covid-19-testing-understanding-the-percent-positive.html

    [5] https://twitter.com/Avi_schnall/status/1322029927563206656?s=20

    [6] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/k-12-testing.html

    [7] https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/letters-health-care-providers/potential-false-positive-results-antigen-tests-rapid-detection-sars-cov-2-letter-clinical-laboratory

    [8] https://regs.health.ny.gov/volume-title-10/content/section-213-isolation-and-quarantine-procedures

    [9] NJ Agudah in press release: https://www.thelakewoodscoop.com/news/2020/10/lakewood-covid-testing-initiative-mass-testing-coming-to-lakewood-as-the-best-way-to-keep-our-mosdos-open.html

    Baruch Katzenstein
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    One Comment

    1. Guest Contributor
      November 5, 2020

      The PCR test was not designed for this purpose:

      Kary Mullis, the Nobel prize winning inventor of the PCR test:

      “If they could find this virus in you at all, and with PCR if you do it well you can find almost anything in anybody. It’s starts making you believe in the sort of Buddhist notion that everything is contained in everything else, right I mean cause if you can amplify one single molecule up to something which you can really measure, which PCR can do, then there’s just very few molecules that you don’t have at least one single one of in your body. OK. So that can be thought of as a misuse of it, just to claim that it’s meaningful….Those tests are all based on things that are invisible and the results are inferred in a sense. PCR is separate from that. It’s just a process that is used to make a whole lot of something out of something. It doesn’t tell you that you are sick and it doesn’t tell you that the thing that you ended up with really was going to hurt you or anything like that.”

      We repeat, “It doesn’t tell you that you are sick and it doesn’t tell you that the thing that you ended up with really was going to hurt you or anything like that.”

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