COVID19 update, Rosh Hashana edition: (1) Israel’s “lockdown lite”; (2) miscellaneous updates

(1) So Israel is entering the new Jewish year with a second lockdown. The multiple “no-work” holidays in these three weeks will mitigate the economic damage somewhat, although unfortunately 1st day of Rosh Hashana and the first and last days of Sukkot all fall on a Sabbath this year.

But it is, in truth, a “lockdown lite”. Businesses that do not have storefronts accessible to the public continue operation as usual, and all “essential businesses” (food, medicine, household products, phone stores,…) remain open. Even the foodsellers in the Machane Yehuda market of Jerusalem are permitted to stay open. Restaurants and eateries are delivery only.

Theoretically, we are restricted to within 500 meter from our house. In practice, there are so many exceptions to this rule (travel to and from work, travel to and from stores selling essential products, sports activity individually or with housemates,…) that one can find an excuse. Public transportation is limited to 50% of capacity.

In my opinion, the most effective component of the lockdown is the closing of schools: I know post hoc is not propter hoc, but I doubt it is just a coincidence that we get a surge in infections a couple weeks after a school system opens or reopens (be it the state school system last May, the state school system again September 1, or the religious seminaries a month ago).

The other component may be that it will impede large family gatherings, where a child who is COVID positive (and likely has no symptoms at all or just some minimal malaise) infects grandparents who are then fighting for their lives 2 weeks later.

(2) Some other updates:

  • (h/t: Laura R.): Persistent lung damages improves gradually after surviving COVID19 infections.
  • Somebody drew my attention to this older article about a 2012 disease outbreak among Chinese miners, in shafts that were also bat caves. The symptoms look remarkably similar to COVID19.
  • After the earlier large-scale Belgian study indicating efficacy of hydroxychloroquine in moderate doses, here is a new Italian study: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejim.2020.08.019
  • While the hitech sector is generally fairly resilient to the COVID-19 crisis, some niche segments are hit. WAZE (the popular crowdsourced mapping and route planning app, originally an Israeli startup, now wholly owned by Google) will be laying off people as during lockdowns it made almost no ad revenue — because people weren’t driving (or if they drove at all, not driving anywhere that they needed to open WAZE for).
  • Mike Levitt, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry 2013, muses on COVID19 and thinks that, in the larger scheme of things, we’ll finally be seeing the epidemic wane this year. His earlier back-of-envelope calculation, that the fatalities from the epidemic would amount to about 4 weeks’ worth of all-cause mortality, so far seems plausible for the USA: last year, 2.813 million Americans died from all causes combined. Divide by 13, and you get 216,000 dead, a bit more than what COVID19 has so far wrought in the USA.

“Gone is the year with its curses.
Here beginneth the year with its blessings.”

Shana tova umetuka umevorekhet ve-kol tuv
A wonderful, sweet, and blessed year and all goodness

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