Hadassah Hospital closed its last COVID-19 ward on April 19. Last Thursday, the country reported no new deaths for the first time in ten months. Sunday it reported the lowest number of new cases — 38 — in a year and the test positivity rate is down to half a percent.
In April the country opened its doors to first-degree relatives. And on May 23 will be open to some tourist groups; that is, “Tourists will be required to take a PCR coronavirus test before boarding a plane to Israel. Upon arrival in Israel, they will have to take both a PCR test and a serological test, which proves the existence of antibodies” thanks to having had a vaccine or having recovered from the illness.
This is important, because getting the numbers under control will be meaningless if the virus is allowed to come back in.
With COVID-19 reaching horrific numbers in India, which has its own variant, this is important. And so only a small number of caregivers and students but no tourists will be allowed in to India. Israel may be sending them medical equipment to help in this deadly battle.
At the end of the day, we are all one world, and as long as COVID-19 exists, people who travel anywhere risk passing it to others.
Trying to find the balance of allowing movement and protecting citizens is one that requires thoughtfulness, since, I believe, the aim has to be for zero new cases for a number of weeks, not just low spread.
Vaccinations play a huge part. While Israel has achieved 59% vaccination rate, other countries have not. and here in the United States, daily rates are actually dropping. The less enthused need persuading. So far, I’ve seen one commercial on television from the CDC telling people it is cool to be vaccinated. There has to be more noise for people to be pushed.
Apparently, there is now a joint effort to get the word out. I hope they blanket the television, radio, streaming services, online. And quickly. From the American Medical Association’s website:
The AMA is joining many of the biggest names in health care and corporate America for a massive national communications effort on COVID-19 vaccines to send patients this message: “It’s up to you.”
More than 300 major brands, media companies, community-based organizations, faith leaders, medical experts and other trusted messengers are supporting the campaign designed to reach distinct audiences. The campaign was announced by the Ad Council and the COVID Collaborative, which have raised $52 million so far for the initiative.
Partners in the new campaign include Adobe, Disney, Facebook and Instagram, Google and YouTube, iHeartMedia, LinkedIn, NBCUniversal, Pandora, Salesforce, Snapchat, Spotify, Twitter, Unilever, Verizon, ViacomCBS and WarnerMedia.
Targeting reluctant slices of the population is imperative. In Israel, an ultra-orthodox family gave permission to use their tragic loss to help turn people around. And it worked. Here, in the US, President Biden is working on how to target conservatives who are reluctant. Unless a message comes from former President Trump (and it won’t, as this article sadly points out), then it is important for those in particular communities to hear it from those close to them. Leaders of their churches, those who opine on the news shows they watch, musicians they listen to, race car drivers and athletes from different sports — the influencers in their world.
I do hope that everyone gets the message. Vaccinations make a difference, as Dr. Fauci acknowledged at a White House briefing, ““We all want normalcy in America. The highway to that normalcy is vaccination — very similar to what Israel has done and is doing. We can get there,” he said.
We have to do this, not only to feel safe where we live, but wherever people live. Honestly, the world needs to work together to make it a safe place, because even one case is one too many.
Get vaccinated now. Please.