Israel’s consul general in New York, 12 other aides test positive for COVID

Foreign Ministry claims Asaf Zamir still waiting for results, but diplomat’s wife blows lid off story with Instagram post

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

Asaf Zamir speaks at a New York City event with the Jewish Federations of North America on September 27, 2021. (Shahar Azran)
Asaf Zamir speaks at a New York City event with the Jewish Federations of North America on September 27, 2021. (Shahar Azran)

Israel’s Consul General to New York Asaf Zamir tested positive for the coronavirus on Saturday night, his wife, actress Maya Wertheimer, announced on Instagram.

At least 12 other staffers at the consulate have also tested positive, and others are waiting for their results after coming down with symptoms in recent days, The Times of Israel learned Saturday evening.

Wertheimer wrote her husband is feeling well and has been vaccinated three times. It was not immediately clear whether Zamir had contracted the Omicron strain, which has been ravaging New York in recent days.

A spokesman for the consulate told The Times of Israel on Saturday evening that Zamir was still waiting for his test results. On Sunday morning, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry said the same thing, though Wertheimer’s post had already been up for several hours.

Staff at the consulate learned about Zamir’s results from Wertheimer’s Instagram post, ToI was told.

On Sunday evening Israel time, the consulate’s spokesman published an official statement confirming the “minor outbreak.”

People wait in line to get tested for COVID-19 at a mobile testing site in Times Square on December 17, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

“All of the personnel who have tested positive are experiencing non-serious symptoms and are in good condition, including Ambassador Zamir,” said spokesman Itay Milner. Out of an abundance of caution, the consulate will be moving to a new schedule this week where employees work partially from home. The consulate extends its thanks to all those who have wished our staff a speedy recovery, and we wish all of our American friends a very happy holiday season.”

Zamir returned last Sunday from the Israeli American Council’s national summit in Florida — the largest Jewish gathering in the US since the start of the pandemic. Over 3,000 people attended sessions that were held largely indoors, though one had to present a negative PCR test in order to attend. Israeli journalist Hila Korach and actor-comedian Eyal Kitzis also tested positive since returning from the IAC conference.

New York state announced Friday that just over 21,000 people had tested positive for COVID the previous day, the highest single-day total for new cases since testing became widely available.

One-day snapshots of virus statistics can be an unreliable way to measure trends, but the new record punctuated a steady increase that started in the western part of the state in late October, and has taken off in New York City in the past week as the Omicron variant spreads.

Just under half of the positive results were in the city, where lines were growing at testing stations and some Broadway shows and the Rockettes Christmas show were canceling performances because of outbreaks among cast members.

Statewide, New York averaged 13,257 positive tests per day over the seven-day period that ended Thursday. That is up 71% from two weeks ago.

The state’s previous one-day high for positive tests came on January 14, 2021, when just under 20,000 people tested positive.

Amy Spiro contributed to this report

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