Jerusalem Living with COVID-19

Jerusalem Living with COVID-19

In Jerusalem, Israel, during this time of isolation from COVID-19, as the novel coronavirus spreads around the world, it is not business as usual.

Jerusalem Israel view with chair outside COVID-19

Now that the sun has finally come out and the rain stopped I have moved my office outside.

Cafes are shut. Malls are basically shut. Food shopping is allowed.

The Machane Yehuda Market shuk with its open markets is closed.

However, as the coronavirus continues to spread and despite the difficulties, Israeli farmers produced 90 million pounds of fruits and vegetables, last week.

Avshalom Vilan, Secretary-General of The Israel Farmer’s Federation, spoke to journalists on a conference phone call about the successes and challenges of work amidst the pandemic, plans for the coming months and  cooperation with Palestinian farmers.

Vilan assured food for Passover will not be a problem. The 50 million eggs for Passover already arrived from Portugal!

Yoel Zilberman is the Founder and CEO of HaShomer HaChadashan and Chairman of SunDo, a start-up that connects farmers with volunteers.

For those wanting to do something in this time of increasing shutdown, SunDo is an App to volunteer to work in agriculture.

The museums are closed. However, the Israel Museum has had virtual tours available with a phone app for several years. Now those guided tours are being offered to people on the other side of the world, not just those wandering the vast galleries. The Tower of David Museum was to show off its latest virtual reality offering yesterday. Now it will really be just virtual for some time.

It is a time when apps and online classes and webinars can keep us busy 24/7.  ZOOM, and Facebook Live, and Netflix offerings seem endless.

I have not left the house, but keep up to date through Whatsapp groups, from MDA and United Hatzalah.

MDA has opened four drive-thru coronavirus test centers, with the first test site in Tel Aviv.

Jerusalem Israel Corona test center drive thru in Arena Parking lot
MDA image

All sports events have been canceled. Near Teddy Stadium, on Monday night, March 22, the parking lot of Jerusalem’s Pais Arena a drive-thru COVID-19 test center for the Jerusalem area was opened. Hundreds of families may be in for a pleasant surprise to receive at Magen David Adom’s and Health Ministry’s “Drive and Test” compounds – a gift set, donated by Intel, in order to ease the isolation period.

These are family quality time game sets, to raise morale and relieve boredom. The gifts set produced by “Tsumi – The Israeli Center for Attention,” and donated by Intel; include variety of table – box games.

Jerusalem during coronavirus working at home outside on porch

My neighbor took advantage of the improved weather to work outside.   I decided not to share the image of other neighbors exercising on the roof.

Jerusalem street during Corona

Cars are out. Jerusalem is not yet on shutdown. Jerusalem has a large part of its economy based on tourism. With no tourists, the businesses that work with them and hotels suffer which exasperates the problem of families on poverty levels in serious ways. Deputy Mayor Fleur Nassan-Hahoum said retraining unemployed workers for positions in demand, like work in a mask factory in Talpiot is a priority.

Jerusalem Passover signs for street pickup of large items

Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Municipality posted signs to clean up for picking up large items before Passover. I admit the sounds of the sanitation workers are comforting.

Israel Knesset view with Crown Plaza in background

What’s happening (or not happening) in the Knesset is a whole other story, not for now.

I have a list of topics I had wanted to share, but there was no time. I hope to keep these posts coming of what is really happening on and off the Jerusalem streets during COVID-19 isolation time.

In the ‘you can learn something new everyday’ department, from friends I learned of Beer Bread.

Picture of Corona Bread

So I made Corona Bread.

Mix – 3 cups of flour, 1/4 cup sugar and one bottle of warm Corona Beer.

Bake in a moderate oven, 350 F – 175 C degrees for almost an hour.

Best warm from the oven, but not so bad the next day either.

Something pre-Passover to do, easy, tasty and makes the houses smell good.

Smell is a powerful trigger for memory – may your memories of these crazy days be good ones.

Sheba Leading the Way in Coronavirus Care

Sheba Leading the Way in Coronavirus Care

In Jerusalem, Israel, and throughout the world, ‘Pandemic’ was used a lot this past week.

COVID-19 has spread fear from Wuhan around the globe.

After initial missteps, healthcare systems are learning to meet the challenge.

Two men in protective wear spraying a playground in Israel

In Israel, increasing restrictions on movement to slow down the spread of the contagious virus have been announced. Dr. Asher Salmon (Shalmon) Israeli Ministry of Health – Head of International Relations has stated Israel has been watching the novel coronavirus since the middle of December.

Last week I joined a mHealth Israel Webinar with medical and technology experts from the US, Germany, Singapore, and Israel to hear what has been learned and recommended best practices.

Most of us are suffering from an ‘Infodemic’ according to Dr. John Whyte, Chief Medical Officer, WebMD. We are being bombarded by information. There was a 6700% increase in internet searches of sore throat and fever. In a Google search, however, he stressed to the international participants, information can be misleading, top-ranked sources are not as important as trusted sources for information.

In Jerusalem, a couple of quick examples of misinformation were from viral Facebook posts. One was supposedly a wedding in a supermarket. It was really a wedding photoshoot and the wedding was held elsewhere.

Much more serious was a series of photographs, supposedly of Jerusalem’s Mamilla Mall parking lot being prepared as an emergency COVID-19 hospital. If you looked carefully at the multiple images, it was obviously NOT Mamilla, and NOT in Jerusalem.

Sheba Hospital image of entrance to new CCCU unit

It was the underground parking in Tel HaShomer – Sheba Hospital, which has now been transformed into a 40 bed Corona Critical Care Unit – CCCU.

Dr. Galia Barkai, Head of Telemedicine, Sheba Medical Center slide

Dr. Galia Barkai, Head of Telemedicine, Sheba Medical Center presented what was being done to meet the challenge of COVID-19. Much of her presentation seemed like science fiction. I have gone to dozens of evenings where Israeli startups have presented. It was wonderful to see some Israeli tech advances being put to use.

Dr. Galia Barkai, Head of Telemedicine, Sheba Medical Center slide for EarylSense

For example, EarlySense, where medical professionals can monitor a patient’s condition without physical contact.

Dr. Galia Barkai, Head of Telemedicine, Sheba Medical Center slide for Tyto care

And Tytocare, a physical examination without contact.

Dr. Galia Barkai, Head of Telemedicine, Sheba Medical Center slide for Robot

In the hospital, a robot allows less physical contact and closer observation of the patients.

Dr. Galia Barkai, Head of Telemedicine, Sheba Medical Center slide for ward with glass wall

Sheba is on to Stage 2 in the fight against the coronavirus. They have transformed an internal medicine ward into a CCCU. The goal is to protect staff from the virus and provide close observation of their patients. A glass wall was installed, as Dr. Barkai said, like an “aquarium.”

Dr. Galia Barkai, Head of Telemedicine, Sheba Medical Center slide of level of care COVID-19

Planned Stage 3 for COVID-19, is to have only the sickest patients hospitalized and less severe cases monitored at home.

Dr. Galia Barkai, Head of Telemedicine, Sheba Medical Center level of home care

Telemedicine requires self-examination of temperature and Oxygen level, 3 times a day.

A daily video visit is by an Internal medicine specialist, with a doctor on call 24/7 to answer questions.

Dr. Galia Barkai, Head of Telemedicine, Sheba Medical Center slide for home care level 2

Level 2, has twice a day video visit, and remote physical exam by Tyto.

Globalisation COVID-19 slide Webinar mHealth

Sharing information, said Dr. Zubin Daruwalla from Singapore, is important to share insights, experiences, and lessons learned. Globalization has been a buzzword for some time.
But Glocalisation is essentially the ability to think globally and act locally.” Principles remain, but approaches may need to vary in different cultures.”

Clinical advise for COVID-19

The best summary of COVID-19 expert advice these 6 simple steps.

On Thursday night, March 19, 2020, Israelis came out of their homes for 2 minutes to applaud, to show their appreciation for medical personnel. Hard at work, putting themselves at risk, to treat those affected by the novel coronavirus COVID-19, and say a collective “Thank You!”

Updated: More about Sheba Medical Center  HERE

Jerusalem Continues in Critical Coronavirus Crisis

Jerusalem Continues in Critical Coronavirus Crisis

What a week it was in Jerusalem, Israel!

Only a week ago it was Purim,  however, it feels like ages ago.

In the past week, couples have gotten married on rooftops and had their wedding photos taken in supermarkets.

The courtyard outside Mercaz Harav Yeshiva was scene of a wedding ceremony with two young men on each balcony watching, singing, and dancing, to keep within the limits of “social distancing.”

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion offered his office as a location for weddings as wedding halls were closed. Two couples took advantage last night, and received free canapes as a bonus.

With the canceling of educational programs, thousands of overseas students are being evicted from their dorm rooms and searching for the fastest flight home.

Meanwhile, olim, new Israeli residents are still arriving daily. They are going from the airport into 14 days of self-isolation, as are all overseas arrivals.

Western Wall Heritage Foundation image of Kotel with separation between people during coronavirus

One of the most popular images this week was sent out by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, of morning prayers at the Kotel, where social distancing was enforced. Later that day scaled-down Bar Mitzvah celebrations were held.

Babies are being born. People are dying. Life is proceeding at a much slower pace in Jerusalem and around the world.

Cable TV offered suggestions on what to watch and what NOT to watch during COVID-19.

After days of cold rain and fog, on Monday the sun came out in Jerusalem, Israel.

People walking on Valley of Cross path in Jerusalem Israel

After days indoors, I thought I would take a short walk in the sunshine.

In Israel Sunday is a regular workday, and for a change it felt like a Sunday elsewhere.

My usual empty nature paths were not empty, so I took a different path.

Corona but runners out on Jerusalem Israel street

The Jerusalem Marathon was postponed until November, but my friends I see every year were out running.

Sign in Jerusalem to keep the streets clean

Keep Jerusalem clean signs have taken the place of upcoming events announcements, all canceled or postponed.

Valley of Cross park in Jerusalem in spring

But on Monday, families enjoyed nature walks,

Father and son riding bicycles

and cyclists had clear footpaths to ride on.

School closed for coronavirus in Jerusalem

Schools were closed. “I’m studying” advertises for an alcohol-free drink – at home.

Valley of Cross in Jerusalem walking path

Whoever thought Monday-felt-like-Sunday days would continue was disappointed with the latest announcement from the Prime Minister.

“I ask you not to leave your homes and stay inside as much as possible. At the moment, I say this as a recommendation. It is still not a directive but that can change. What I am asking you today is to reduce your going out to what is essential. I assume that you are familiar with the English saying ‘My home is my castle.’ I ask that you adopt exactly this. Your homes are your castles for protection against the Coronavirus, on condition that you also act responsibly at home. Then stay home.”

Jerusalem woman wearing gloves as she sits and read the paper at Gan Sacher

On Monday,  this woman was wearing gloves while reading the paper outdoors.

Projection of Italian flag on Old City Walls Jerusalem is with Italy, screen shot from Twitter Yuval Rotem

Jerusalem Old City walls were lit with a message for Italians.

Albert Einstein Square in Jerusalem Israel

I think most people overlooked Pi Day this year, celebrated on March 14th, also Albert Einstein’s birth date in 1879. I did not go to Albert Einstein Square this year but posted an old photograph.

Mezuzah on door of plant nursery connected to new restaurant at Jerusalem Botanical Gardens

There is a new restaurant near the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens.

Nursery for plants in Jerusalem

Next to it is a plant nursery, so glad we went before all the restaurants were forced to close this week and only offer takeout or delivery.

Jerusalem Israel Hebrew poster for Arts and Brain Festival at Cinematheque

Big signs have been posted, but theaters are closed, so the annual Art and Brain Week March 21-28 at Cinematheque with Hebrew University Brain Studies will not be presented as usual.

French Film Festival and Art and Brain week at Jerusalem Cinematheque

The French Film Festival was also at the Cinematheque.

Yad Vashem and Jerusalem’s museums are closed.

Structure for Yom Haatzmaut at Har Herzl seen at night

Memorial ceremonies in April, at the Kotel and Har Herzl, will not proceed with the large audiences. We saw the event set-up already under construction. Last week we wondered how families would get to graves as usual on Yom HaZikaron, Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terror, as the cemetery was undergoing a major renovation. Now this annual huge gathering was announced not to happen.

Jerusalem Israel Valley of Cross

The hills and valleys of Jerusalem were alive with the sounds of children’s voices.

Jerusalem Israel fog thick no visibility

Now the stormy weather and increased measures will keep children inside.

Plus increased warnings will keep children also away from older relatives.

Israelis who were at the AIPAC conference in the US came home to isolation.

But Israelis show remarkable resilience – one example:  HERE

And, I want to leave you with a positive image.

Flowers from rock in Jerusalem

As every year, the flowers have burst forth through the ancient Jerusalem stones.

Construction work has not halted.

Work is set to continue under new regulations.

Much more will be happening on the Jerusalem streets.