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Klezmer virtuoso Andy Statman recovering from coronavirus

Andy Statman and his wife have apparently been infected by the coronavirus. The 69 year-old Klezmer and bluegrass virtuoso says that, although the couple hasn’t been tested, his doctor diagnosed the virus over the phone based on their symptoms.

“He said ‘You have the virus,’” Statman said over the phone.

The Brooklyn-based clarinetist and mandolin player said he woke up ill on the morning of Sunday, March 22nd, feeling dizzy, achy and unable to get out of bed.

“I’ve never had vertigo like this before,” Statman said. “Everything was spinning. It was crazy.”

His wife Barbara got sick the following Wednesday night with a high temperature but had no difficulty breathing.

Statman said he still feels sick and fatigued a week later but that as of Sunday evening his wife’s temperature has been normal for the last 24 hours.

Statman’s doctor directed the couple to isolate from each other, so they have been sleeping in separate rooms, using separate bathrooms and wearing masks when they are in close proximity to each other at home.

“It’s a little bit insane but you have to guard your health,” he said, then joked, “Who is that masked woman?”

Statman says he has no idea of how he and his wife were infected. He said there are some mild coronavirus cases in his heavily Orthodox neighborhood in the Midwood section of Brooklyn. The son of one of Statman’s closest friends, though, has been intubated and is in a coma as a result of the virus.

“I feel very fortunate that I only have a mild case and God willing it’ll stay like this,” said Statman.

Like other musicians, Statman’s income has taken a hit from the pandemic. Gigs for his trio at local venues, including Barbes, Jalopy and The Charles Street Synagogue, have been cancelled as has as a tour in California scheduled for the fall, which was to include Statman’s mandolin teacher David Grisman.

“The whole tour is down the drain for now but, God willing, I think it’ll happen again sometime when things are safer.”

While he waits out the pandemic and recovers his health, Statman spends his time studying the holy texts, listening to music and practicing on his new mandolin when he has the energy to do so. He and his wife Barbara picked up the new instrument outside Charlotte, West Virginia last summer.

“The upside of this thing is that people show chased to one another and concern and love, which they may not normally show during the course of a week and that’s a mitzvah,” he said. “It’s a mitzvah to guard your health.”


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