The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone everywhere. Even though much of the attention has been paid to countries like the US and other parts of the world like Asia and Europe, everyone is feeling the sting. This includes Israel, which continues to battle the virus. During the past few months, we have been hit especially hard by the disease. Many families are struggling to make ends meet. Some small businesses have been forced to close their doors without the prospects of ever reopening. Many are beginning to wonder just how Israel has been able to handle the crisis. Here are a few points to keep in mind:
- After reports began surfacing of a mysterious virus in the Fall of 2019, the government was quick to respond. They closed off flights from China and ones from Japan and South Korea were quick to follow. When it spread to Europe, flights from EU countries were also cancelled. Prime Minister Netanyahu made nightly TV appearances begging people to listen to health experts. He encouraged social distancing, asked people to wear masks, and did everything he could to get them to prevent the virus from spreading further. The country even ramped up testing.
- This approach worked. The virus seemed to be under control. At one point, there were fewer than 10 new cases per day. Then, everything changed. The government declared victory. They decided to reopen everything at once. Of course disaster struck. The virus is very much alive and will continue taking the lives of innocent people until the day a vaccine is found. Predictably, when people let their guard down, it spreads like wildfire. COVID-19 cases have shot through the roof over the past months. The government had no choice but to shut many of the country's facilities down again. As expected, this has had a disastrous impact on the economy.
- The tourism industry of Israel has taken the brunt of the punishment. It was first to feel the full impact of the pandemic when flights from other parts of the world stopped coming in. The entire industry saw its revenue dry up. Unlike other parts of the economy, it hasn't even begun its comeback. With other parts of the world still battling the pandemic, Ben Gurion International Airport remains empty, leaving some to wonder if Israeli tourism can ever recover.
Even though hindsight is 20/20, the best thing to do now is listen to the guidance of health experts. There are still ways to fight back against the scourge. Every citizen of the country has to do whatever they can to slow the spread of the deadly disease. Eventually, researchers will come up with a vaccine that will keep it at bay. G-d willing that day comes soon and we can all return to our normal ways of life.