Thursday, June 25, 2020

The New Normal?

Yesterday some 500 new cases of coronavirus were detected in Israel, the highest number since April. The number of cases keeps going up. Health Ministry officials warn us that we will soon have over a thousand new cases a day, higher than Israel’s peak in late March/early April.

The second wave of the disease seems to be a direct result of the re-opening of the Israeli economy. Life has returned to normal, but a new sort of normal. Things are different.

Many Israelis who lost their jobs because of the lockdown have yet to come back to work. Entire industries, such as tourism, see no light at the end of their tunnel. Citizens interviewed on television complain that they have no income, that they cannot survive on government benefits.

Not all Israelis are abiding by the rules. Not everyone wears a mask when in public, even though the fines for not doing so have been increased substantially. People are not maintaining social distancing. Restrictions are being ignored. Demonstrations, parties, celebrations, and more are possible sources of mass infections.

I find two things worrisome in our present situation. First, there is no one in our government who seems to know what to do. No central authority to lead us through this crisis. Instead of focusing on our health and economy, our country’s leaders are discussing whether the prime minister should get retroactive tax benefits. Whether Israel should annex territories when Israelis have no money to put food on their tables.

The second thing I find worrisome is the lack of worry among the public. Instead of the panic that accompanied the first wave of the disease, which kept us in total lockdown, this time around we’ve resumed our daily routines. We go shopping, eat in restaurants, crowd the beaches and the parks, and soon theaters and cinemas will be frequented as well. OK, so we grudgingly wear a mask where necessary but we can live like this.

We could be in a freefall. Things could get worse before they get better. Do we care? I should hope so! Does our leadership care? I’m not all that sure.

Stay safe out there!

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