Israel went from COVID cocky to catastrophe

Opinion: Vows of 'no more lockdowns' are no longer heard, despite government's insistence that most mitigation efforts center around getting jabs into the arms of the unvaccinated; it is no surprise, therefore, that public mistrust in decision-makers is spreading as fast as the Delta strain

Ariela Ringel Hoffman|
The recent warnings that the government might impose a COVID closure during the Jewish High Holidays that start September 6 are laughable.
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  • The tidal wave of COVID cases around the country is rising fast, so why not simply impose an immediate closure? Or, if it's too out of the blue and the government doesn't want to just spring it on the public, why not announce that a closure will be imposed next week or the week after?
    Did the pathogen go on vacation until September? Did it announce a month-long truce?
    3 View gallery
    משטרה בתל אביב
    משטרה בתל אביב
    Police enforce lockdown on Tel Aviv beach earlier this year
    (Photo: EPA)
    Just weeks ago, Israel was celebrating the fact that the national number of daily cases had dwindled to single digits, that hospitals were shutting their COVID wards, that the fatalit was more or less stagnant.
    We continued to celebrate even when the Delta variant breached Ben-Gurion Airport, when the number of daily cases suddenly spiked by hundreds of percent, when instead of six new cases pday, we had 500.
    And when the number of daily cases climbed into the thousands, we found solace in the fact that the number of patients in serious condition remained stable.
    Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz is cautious about a closure, while Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton has vowed that the upcoming academic year will begin as planned and students will not BE vaccinated at school.
    They may both suffer the indignity of a U-turn but it is the public who will truly suffer. For almost without noticing, Israel has gone from celebration to catastrophe.
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    נפתלי בנט מלווה את אמו להתחסן בפעם השלישית
    נפתלי בנט מלווה את אמו להתחסן בפעם השלישית
    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett accompanies his mother Myrna as she receives the third dose of the coronavirus vaccine
    (Photo: Elad Gershgoren)
    Israel’s third jab campaign is currently underway. The smart thing to do would be to impose the closure now, let the booster campaign do its job, and lift the closure to coincide with the start of the High Holidays.
    But if the last lockdown taught us anything, it is that such a radical step is useless if the public refuses to cooperate and has no faith in its government.
    The only way to actually beat this disease is to vaccinate the millions who refuse to get the inoculation - or at least the hundreds of thousands who are not ideological refusers, but merely what have come to be known as “vaccine procrastinators.”
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    אוהל בדיקות הקורונה החדש בנתב"ג
    אוהל בדיקות הקורונה החדש בנתב"ג
    A traveler undergoes testing for coronavirus at Ben-Gurion International Airport
    (Photo: Avi Hai)
    Our public officials keep contradicting each other, as the repeated promises of “no closure” gradually transform into threats of a looming lockdown - despite their insistence that most of the mitigation efforts center around getting jabs into the arms of the unvaccinated.
    It is no surprise that the public mistrust of its decision makers is spreading as quickly as the Delta variant.
    The public still remembers the previous government’s lack of leadership, the repeated breaches at Ben-Gurion Airport, the slow closure of the site that allowed a multitude of variants to stream into the country, the inactive testing stations, the dysfunction of the COVID hotels, the constant violations by politicians and the belittling of health professionals.
    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's "coalition for change" has to do better, for this is not how you protect the people in your care.
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