Jerusalem has most virus cases, followed by Bnei Brak
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Coronavirus cases surge to 5,358 in largest single-day spike

Over 660 cases reported since Monday evening; 94 people in serious condition, including 76 hooked up to ventilators

A paramedic of Israel's Magen David Adom national emergency medical service handles a swab to test for coronavirus at a drive-thru testing site in the northern Israeli city of Tamra on March 31, 2020. (Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP)
A paramedic of Israel's Magen David Adom national emergency medical service handles a swab to test for coronavirus at a drive-thru testing site in the northern Israeli city of Tamra on March 31, 2020. (Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s developments as they unfolded.

Woman in her 50s is Israel’s 17th, and apparently youngest, victim of virus

A woman in her 50s has died of the coronavirus in Sheba Medical Center outside Tel Aviv, the 17th and apparently youngest person in Israel to succumb to the disease, the hospital says.

In a statement, the hospital says the woman, whose name has not yet been released, suffered from serious preexisting conditions before contracting the virus.

Judah Ari Gross

Haredim from virus hotspots said banned from ER at Israel’s largest hospital

Ultra-Orthodox residents of cities with large numbers of coronavirus cases will be banned from the emergency room at Sheba Medical Center and treated in an isolated area, according to a report by the Walla news site, which cites an internal directive at Israel’s largest hospital.

The rule applies to residents of Bnei Brak, Modiin Illit and Elad, and other places, it says, even if there is no known exposure to the virus or symptoms.

According to the report, Haredi patients seeking emergency medical care will be asked where they are coming from, while other patients will not be screened by location or community affiliation before entering the ER.

“When I see a Haredi person, I immediately think he has coronavirus,” a senior health official tells the site. “This is the right thing to do, it is our obligation to do it this way.”

New York Rep. Velázquez says she likely has virus

New York Rep. Nydia Velázquez, a Democrat who attended Friday’s House session to pass a $2 trillion rescue package, says in a statement that she has a presumed coronavirus infection.

Velázquez, who represents parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan, stood within feet of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic and Republican leaders at a signing ceremony after the bill was passed.

Velázquez, 67, says in the statement that she began to feel ill Sunday morning and spoke to the Capitol’s attending physician by phone. She says she was diagnosed with a presumed infection but has mild symptoms and is isolating at home, as the doctor recommended.

AP

Death toll climbs to 18 as woman, 49, succumbs to virus

A 49-year-old woman dies of the coronavirus in central Israel’s Yitzhak Shamir Medical Center, making her the 18th and youngest person in Israel to succumb to the disease, the hospital says.

The medical center says the woman, whose name has not yet been released, suffered from preexisting medical conditions.

Judah Ari Gross

Health Ministry: Number of virus infections hits 4,831

The Health Ministry reports 136 fresh coronavirus cases since last night, bringing the country’s total to 4,831.

Of them, 83 people are in serious condition, including 69 who have been put on ventilators. Another 95 are in moderate condition, according to the ministry.

The vast majority — 4,473 — display only light symptoms, and 163 have fully recovered from the disease, the ministry says.

Judah Ari Gross

WHO warns pandemic `far from over’ in Asia and Pacific

The World Health Organization warns that while attention has shifted to epicenters in Western Europe and North America, COVID-19 epidemics are “far from over” in Asia and the Pacific.

Urging governments at all levels in the region to stay engaged in efforts to combat the virus, WHO regional director for the Western Pacific, Dr. Takeshi Kasai says, “This is going to be a long-term battle and we cannot let down our guard. We need every country to keep responding according to their local situation.”

He says the WHO realizes there is no one-size-fits-all approach but there are common tactics. “Those are: finding, isolating and testing cases early, tracing and quarantining contacts quickly, and putting in place multiple public health interventions to place physical distance between people to slow and stop transmission.”

Takeshi also cautions that countries still need to prepare for large-scale community transmission.

“We need to be clear that even with all of these measures, the risk will not go away as long as the pandemic continues. Rather, these measures can buy us valuable time to prepare,” he says.

AP

49-year-old victim identified; is survived by 4-year-old twins

The mayor of Lod identifies the woman who died of the coronavirus as Tamar Peretz Levy, 49, a resident of the city.

She is survived by four-year-old twins, Yair Revivo says in a Facebook post. Her partner, Shimon, died of heart failure shortly after their birth.

“Tamar was a hero, an engineer at Alta in the aerospace industry, who fought for many years to have a family and bring the twins into the world,” he says.

Most of her relatives are quarantined, the mayor says.

ברוך דיין האמת, איזה בוקר עצוב. תושבת העיר שלנו, תמר פרץ לוי הלכה הלילה לעולמה מהמחלה הארורה של הקורונה.תמר בת 49 בלבד…

פורסם על ידי ‏יאיר רביבו‏ ב- יום שני, 30 במרץ 2020

2 prison guards confirmed infected with coronavirus

The Israel Prisons Service says two guards have been infected with the novel coronavirus.

The diagnosis of a female guard at the Nitzan holding facility prompts authorities to close the center and place its 15 prisoners in quarantine.

The second guard works at Ofer Prison.

According to the Kan public broadcaster, neither has had recent direct contact with prisoners.

New York hospital doctor prepares for the worst, says peak near

With the rapid rise of hospitalizations and a health system nearly at capacity, New York doctor Shamit Patel is preparing for the worst over the next few days, all while hoping he won’t have to start choosing which coronavirus patients to treat.

Just 10 days ago, only half of the 46-year-old internist’s patients at Beth Israel — one of the Mount Sinai hospitals in Manhattan — were suffering from COVID-19.

“We’re not over capacity yet, but we’re planning for it to go over capacity,” he says, adding he thinks the hospital has “planned well.”

The wave of virus patients at Beth Israel corresponds to the one inundating New York City, which shot from 463 confirmed cases two weeks ago to 36,000 on Monday.

“At the rate that I’m seeing, the peak could be anywhere from end of this week to sometime next week,” says Patel.

Under extreme pressure for the past two weeks, he is preparing for the worst, even if “it’s something that we hope we don’t have to see.”

AFP

US death toll from pandemic set to surpass China’s

The mounting death toll from the virus outbreak in the United States has it poised to overtake China’s grim toll of 3,300 deaths.

Hard-hit Italy and Spain have already overtaken China and now account for more than half of the nearly 38,000 COVID-19 deaths worldwide, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

with AP

27 ventilators, 8 million masks arrive in Israel, Health Ministry says

Israeli security services bring 27 ventilators into the country, along with some 8 million protective masks, a Health Ministry spokesperson says.

According to the official, the supply operation was carried out by the Mossad intelligence service, Defense Ministry, Health Ministry, Prime Minister’s Office, and Israel Defense Forces.

Judah Ari Gross

Coronavirus patient jumps from hospital window, is seriously hurt

A patient, 34, in the coronavirus ward at the Poriya Medical Center in Tiberias has jumped from a third-story window.

He is seriously injured in the fall.

European stock markets extend gains at open

European stock markets rise at the open, extending gains won in the previous session, as traders weigh up global stimulus efforts to tackle the economic fallout from the coronavirus.

London gains 1.0 percent, Frankfurt climbs 1.5 percent, Paris and Milan advance 1.3 percent and Madrid is up 1.5 percent.

AFP

Supreme Rabbinical Court judges said infected with virus; 1 in serious condition

Two Supreme Rabbinical Court judges have been infected with the coronavirus, according to the Kikar HaShabat website.

Rabbi Maimon Nahari is in serious condition and on a ventilator, it says.

A second rabbinical judge on the country’s highest religious court, Rabbi Eliezer Igra, is displaying mild symptoms and is home with his wife, who is also sick with COVID-19.

Another Supreme Rabbinical Court employee is also sick, it says, without identifying them.

Russians may face up to five years’ jail for spreading false coronavirus news

Russian lawmakers are set to consider legislation imposing severe punishment — including up to five years in prison — for people convicted of spreading false information about the coronavirus.

If a person were found guilty of inadvertently causing a person’s death or other grave consequences by spreading “intentionally false” information about life-threatening circumstances, he would face a fine of up to 2 million rubles ($25,000) or up to five years in prison.

The proposals also foresee punishment — including a fine of up to 1.5 million rubles and up to three years in prison — for harming a person’s health through spreading false information.

The proposals are part of a package of draft legislation that also aims to impose tough punishment — including up to seven years in prison — for people breaking coronavirus quarantine rules.

The amendments to Russia’s Criminal Code were proposed by Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the lower house State Duma, and another senior lawmaker of the governing United Russia party, Pavel Krasheninnikov, so are expected to pass swiftly.

AFP

Jerusalem has most virus cases, followed by Bnei Brak

The Health Ministry releases information on the number of virus cases in Israel’s cities.

It shows the Haredi city of Bnei Brak trailing Jerusalem, which is five times larger, by some 80 cases.

A breakdown:

Jerusalem — 650
Bnei Brak — 571
Tel Aviv — 278
Ashkelon — 114
Rishon Lezion — 103
Petach Tikva — 96
Netanya — 83
Beersheba — 83
Ashdod — 81
Ramat Gan — 81
Bat Yam — 76
Beit Shemesh — 76
Holon — 75
Migdal Ha’emek — 72
Elad — 68
Haifa — 67
Raanana — 57
Rehovot — 53
Herzliya — 53
Efrat — 52
Modiin Illit — 48
Beitar Illit — 38
Lod — 37
Kiryat Ono — 33
Tiberias — 32
Kfar Saba — 36
Ramat Hasharon — 28
Ramle — 25
Hod Hasharon — 25
Kiryat Gat — 22
Givatayim — 22
Hadera — 20
Safed — 19
Nahariya — 16
Sderot — 13
Kiryat Ata — 12
Rosh Ha’ayin — 10
Rahat — 4
Nazareth — 3

Health Ministry to update mask guidelines, says makeshift cover sufficient

The Health Ministry urges Israelis to use makeshift masks, such as wrapping material around one’s face, rather than stocking up on surgical masks amid a worldwide shortage.

Director-General Moshe Bar Siman-Tov says the ministry will release guidelines later today to the public on when and how to don masks.

“We’re not telling the public to go around with surgical masks,” he says, saying a piece of material would suffice.

Amid pandemic, Western Wall cleared of notes in pre-Passover cleaning

Despite the pandemic, the Western Wall undergoes a semiannual cleaning ahead of Passover, with notes cleared from its stones by workers wearing gloves.

“Ahead of the Passover holiday, we continued the tradition and this morning the prayer notes that were buried in the Western Wall’s cracks in the past half a year were cleared, with the use of gloves and disposable wooden utensils,” the authority that oversees the holy site says in a statement. “The notes were gathered in sacks and will be buried with holy books… on the Mount of Olives.”

In the statement, it says 18,000 notes have been sent to the wall via internet since Rosh Hashanah in the fall.

The Western Wall rabbi supervises the ritual and issues a special prayer for those ill with the virus.

“In these difficult days, in which the plague is spreading around the world and threatening our lives, we are gathering the prayers of the entire world from the remnant of our destroyed Temple, with a prayer to the creator of the world that he send us a full recovery and sound health, and save us from this difficult virus that is plaguing us,” says Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch.

Europe sends medical gear to Iran in first sanction-bypass deal

European nations have delivered medical goods to Iran in the first transaction under the Instex mechanism set up to evade American sanctions on Tehran, the German foreign ministry says.

“France, Germany and the United Kingdom confirm that Instex has successfully concluded its first transaction, facilitating the export of medical goods from Europe to Iran. These goods are now in Iran,” the ministry says in a statement.

The first successful transaction comes over a year after Britain, France and Germany announced the creation of Instex, months that have been marked by Iranian chafing against European delay.

“Now the first transaction is complete, Instex and its Iranian counterpart STFI will work on more transactions and enhancing the mechanism,” Berlin says.

Britain, France and Germany were among a list of countries that Iran reported receiving medical aid from earlier this month as it battles a serious outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

AFP

Poll: Israelis worried about virus, finances; trust state not to abuse tracking

A survey finds that most Israelis are concerned they may contract virus and worry about their financial future, but largely approve of the state’s handling of the health crisis.

According to the Israel Democracy Institute’s Peace Index, 76 percent of Israelis fret about the possibility they or their family members will be infected with the virus, and 73% are concerned about financial matters.

Most Jewish respondents (63%) say they trust the Shin Bet security agency as controversial surveillance measures are put in place to stem the virus through phone tracking, but a plurality of Arab respondents (45%) express distrust. Overall, 59% trust the Shin Bet, with those on the right slightly more likely than those with left-wing views.

Most Israelis are pleased with how Netanyahu is handling the crisis (60%), though his health minister, Yaakov Litzman, gets lower marks (40%). Moshe Bar Siman-Tov, the director of the Health Ministry, receives a 68% approval rank.

“83% of Israelis think that the hospitals are doing a good job; 58.5% think the same of the media; and only 39% think that the Ministry of Finance is performing well,” says IDI.

Most respondents in the survey also favor a unity government of Likud and Blue and White (57%), the poll finds, though the survey was conducted before Gantz dissolved the alliance and split off to hold unity negotiations.

The March 24-26, 2020, telephone and internet survey of 611 Jewish respondents and 149 Arab respondents was conducted by the Midgam institute and had a margin of error of  3.7%± .

Unemployment rate climbs to 23.4%

The unemployment rate rises to 23.4%, with over 800,000 Israelis put out of work in March due to the pandemic.

Among those seeking state benefits, 89.8% have been placed on leave by their workplaces, while 6.3% were fired.

Before the health crisis, there were 160,000 people registered for unemployment, or some 3.6%.

12-year-old girl dies of coronavirus in Belgium

Belgian authorities say a 12-year-old girl has died of the coronavirus, by far the youngest person among the more than 700 victims in the country.

Announcing the news, national crisis-center coronavirus spokesman Emmanuel Andre says it is “an emotionally difficult moment, because it involves a child, and it has also upset the medical and scientific community.”

“We are thinking of her family and friends. It is an event that is very rare, but one which upsets us greatly,” Andre says. No details about the girl are provided.

He says that 98 people had died from the disease over the last 24 hours, bringing the total toll to 705 in a country of around 11.5 million people. More than 12,705 cases have been confirmed in total so far.

Andre says that Belgian authorities expect the spread of the disease to reach its peak in coming days, and that “we will arrive at a point where we’re close to saturation point at our hospitals.”

AP

Spain sees record death toll with 849 fatalities in 24 hours

Once again, Spain hits a new record with 849 people dying of COVID-19 in 24 hours, hiking the overall death toll to 8,189, the government says.

The increase comes after a day in which the number of deaths had fallen slightly, raising hopes the epidemic could be reaching a peak in Spain, which has logged the world’s second-highest number of deaths from the virus, after Italy.

Another 9,222 people tested positive for the virus over the past 24 hours, raising the total number of confirmed cases to 94,417.

AFP

Iran reports 141 new virus deaths, raising toll to 2,898

Iran says 141 more have died from the novel coronavirus, raising the official toll in one of the world’s worst-affected countries to 2,898.

Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour says 3,111 new infections have been confirmed over the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 44,606.

He says 3,703 of those hospitalized are in critical condition and 14,656 have recovered.

AFP

New study underlines danger of coronavirus to those in middle age

Middle-aged people, and not just the elderly, have a dramatically higher risk of dying or developing serious illness from COVID-19, new research from Britain shows.

The findings come in a new comprehensive analysis of virus cases in mainland China.

Researchers from Britain analyzed more than 3,600 confirmed COVID-19 cases as well as data from hundreds of passengers repatriated from the outbreak city of Wuhan.

They find that age is a key determining factor in serious infections, with nearly one in five over-80s requiring hospitalization, compared to around 1 percent among people under 30.

Taking into account estimates of the number of cases that may not have been clinically confirmed — that is, mild or asymptomatic infections — the data shows the hospitalization rate of patients in their fifties was 8.2 percent.

The study, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, estimates that the mortality rate from confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China was 1.38 percent.

If unconfirmed cases are taken into account, the death rate dropped to 0.66 percent.

The authors of the research say that while this was significantly lower than previous estimates, COVID-19 is still several times deadlier than previous pandemic viruses, such as H1N1.

“Our estimates can be applied to any country to inform decisions around the best containment policies for COVID-19,” says Azra Ghani, a study co-author from Imperial College London.

AFP

Settler leaders urge Netanyahu to push Gantz on annexation

Settler leaders, in a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, urge him not to “squander the historic opportunity” to extend Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank.

The letter, publicized by Army Radio, calls for the prime minister to anchor annexation in its emerging coalition agreements with Blue and White’s Benny Gantz.

Website maps out 100-meter coronavirus boundaries

An open source website offers Israelis the 100-meter boundaries from their homes where they may venture under lockdown rules. For those interested in a precise map, all it requires is an address.

Likud’s Sa’ar urges PM to keep cabinet small, cut salaries to save resources

Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar is urging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to keep the emerging cabinet small amid reports the prospective coalition agreements with Blue and White could include over 30 ministerial posts.

Netanyahu has come under fire from Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid, who has accused him of planning to placate politicians with ministerial portfolios, wasting state resources that could be used to help citizens.

“Although in Israel’s history there have been large governments, it would not be right to form the most bloated cabinet during the most serious economic crisis,” he says.

Sa’ar also calls for the salaries of ministers, MKs, judges, and senior officials in the public sector to be cut in solidarity.

Vatican reps seek to reopen Church of Holy Sepulchre, broadcast prayers

The Custodia Terræ Sanctæ, the Vatican’s representatives in Israel, write a letter to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, asking him for permission to reopen the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City to broadcast Easter prayers.

“While last night it was publicized that the Israeli government has exempted the Western Wall and Tomb of the Patriarchs [from lockdown rules], the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the holiest site to hundreds of millions of Christians around the world, remains closed with a total ban on holding services,” the letter says. “This situation is unacceptable.”

The letter asks that “Easter prayers be held in a small forum of no more than 10 clergy and cameramen who will broadcast it live to the Christian world.”

Similar letters of appeal are sent to Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin.

US extends Iran nuclear cooperation sanctions waivers

The Trump administration renews several waivers on US sanctions against Iran, allowing Russian, European and Chinese companies to continue to work on Iran’s civilian nuclear facilities without drawing American penalties.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo signs off on the waiver extensions but couches the decision as one that continues restrictions on Iran’s atomic work. “Iran’s continued expansion of nuclear activities is unacceptable. The regime’s nuclear extortion is among the greatest threats to international peace and security,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus says in a statement.

Current and former officials familiar with the matter say Pompeo had opposed extending the waivers, which are among the few remaining components of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that the administration has not canceled.

However, the officials say Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had prevailed in an internal debate on the subject last week by arguing that the coronavirus pandemic made eliminating the waivers unpalatable at a time when the administration is being criticized for refusing to ease sanctions to deal with the outbreak. The officials were not authorized to publicly discuss the decision and spoke on condition of anonymity.

AP

Coronavirus death toll rises to 19 as woman in her 90s dies

The Kaplan Medical Center says a woman in her 90s has died of the coronavirus, becoming the 19th fatality in Israel.

The woman had preexisting health problems, says the hospital.

Defense Ministry says it’s developing system to monitor patients from afar

Israel’s Defense Ministry says it created a system for measuring patients’ medical data from afar — preventing the need for physical contact, which can spread the coronavirus — out of a military radar, thermal camera and optical sensors, in a joint research program with defense contractors.

Using the system, which passed an initial test, healthcare workers can remotely measure pulse, respiratory rate and temperature, the ministry says.

“The goal of the test was to determine the systems’ reliability and accessibility. As a result of the test, plans are underway for the implementation of these systems in medical centers,” the ministry says.

Judah Ari Gross

Hospital says 58-year-old man didn’t die of virus; death toll at 18

The Yitzhak Shamir Medical Center says the death of a 58-year-old man announced Monday was unrelated to the coronavirus.

The man had been declared a victim of the pandemic.

The coronavirus death toll in the country drops to 18.

Bennett says NIS 2.4b spent on equipment, goods to combat pandemic

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett says Israel has so far spent roughly NIS 2.4 billion on equipment and goods needed to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

This has included ventilators, masks, protective gear and testing kits, he says.

Judah Ari Gross

Global death toll at 38,466; nearly 800,000 infected

The worldwide number of officially confirmed fatalities from the novel coronavirus rose to 38,466 on Tuesday, according to a tally compiled by AFP at 1100 GMT from official sources.

More than 791,000 declared cases have been registered in 185 countries and territories since the epidemic first emerged in China in December. Of these cases, at least 163,300 are now considered recovered.

The tallies, using data collected by AFP offices from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections.

Many countries are only testing cases that require hospitalization.

AFP

Bennett warns suicides could surpass virus deaths if lockdown kept too long

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett warns Israel may see more suicides than deaths from the coronavirus if the country’s lockdown is kept in place for too long.

“We have to understand the massive distress of those who won’t have enough money to pay their rent — we may have more suicides than deaths from coronavirus,” he says.

Bennett calls for the government to work quickly to reopen businesses as quickly as possible by performing large numbers of tests in order to identify possible sources of outbreaks as well as places where more normal life can resume.

The defense minister says the country is generally doing a good job in combating the disease, resulting in a relatively low death rate of 0.3% so far.

“We’re in a good place,” he says.

Judah Ari Gross

Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher attacks trial delayed over virus

The trial of 14 people accused of aiding jihadist gunmen who targeted the Charlie Hebdo newspaper and other Paris targets including a kosher supermarket in January 2015 has been postponed until September, after courts were almost totally shut down in France’s coronavirus fight, prosecutors say.

Seventeen people were killed over three days in and around the city after brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi massacred 12 people at the offices of the satirical paper, heralding a wave of Islamic attacks on French soil in the following years.

After years of investigations, the trial was to open in May, but confinement rules imposed by authorities to slow the coronavirus outbreak prompted prosecutors to announce a delay last week.

It is now to open on September 2 and run until November 10, France’s anti-terrorism prosecutors says.

Two days after the Charlie Hebdo killings, the Kouachi brothers were cornered and killed by security forces at a printing company outside Paris.

That same day, Amedy Coulibaly opened fire at a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris, killing four, a day after he killed a young policewoman in Paris. He also was killed by security forces during the siege.

All three gunmen had claimed allegiance to jihadist groups.

The 14 suspects facing trial are accused of providing logistical aid to the attackers.

AFP

Italy holds minute of silence for its 11,500 virus casualties

Italy observes a minute of silence and flies its flags at half-staff in a collective, nationwide gesture to honor the victims of the coronavirus and their families.

The Vatican also lowers its flags Tuesday to honor the dead in the country with the greatest toll from the virus, which stands at more than 11,500.

The noon minute of silence is observed in cities and towns around the country.

The office of Premier Giuseppe Conte says the gesture is a sign of national mourning and solidarity with the victims, their families “and as a sign of collective participation in mourning with the hardest-hit communities.”

AP

Ahead of Passover, chief rabbis say Zoom seders forbidden, no burning chametz

The Chief Rabbinate releases a list of religious directives for the upcoming Passover holiday amid the pandemic, softening some obligations while strongly opposing the use of videoconferencing on the holiday as a violation of Jewish law.

“The loneliness is painful and we must find a solution for it, perhaps with a video conversation before the holiday begins, but not by violating the holiday, which is only permitted in cases of pikuah nefesh [when lives are endangered], as stated,” it says.

The chief rabbis say burning the chametz, or leaven, is not necessary this year amid government restrictions on movement, saying throwing the food in the garbage and pouring bleach on it or flushing it down the toilet would suffice.

They say new utensils and dishes may be used without ritual immersion, if they are “sold” or gifted to a non-Jew and borrowed for Passover, and should later be immersed without a blessing.

The rabbinate says dishes may be made kosher for Passover in home ovens (while stressing this leniency is only for this year). For dishes without any wood, plastic rubber, they should be placed in a clean oven (which does not need to be kosher for Passover) and blasted with the highest possible heat for 20 minutes, it says.

The rabbinate gives dispensation to sell hametz gamur to non-Jews, for those unaccustomed to do so normally. Chametz can be sold online through the rabbinate, and for those facilities such as schools that cannot be checked due to limitations on movement, the sale should be done before next Tuesday.

They stress that there will no public prayer, mikvehs will remain open for women, and the Jewish laws of mourning must be observed.

PM: Defense bio research center making ‘significant progress’ on vaccine

The Prime Minister’s Office says Israel’s defense biological research institute has made “significant progress” in developing a vaccine against COVID-19 and will soon start testing on animals.

The announcement follows head of the facility Prof. Shmuel Shapira updating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the institute’s progress in developing a vaccine, the PMO says.

A report earlier this month claiming the institute had made a breakthrough was later denied by the government body.

Sick officer sends IDF chief, top generals into quarantine

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi and two other generals have gone into quarantine after taking part in a meeting with an officer who tested positive for the disease, the military says.

“The chief of staff feels good, has no symptoms, and will undergo a test in the next few minutes,” the Israel Defense Forces says.

Incoming IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi at the Western Wall, January 15, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The military says he is able to keep his usual schedule of activities while in quarantine.

The IDF says the head of the Home Front Command Maj. Gen. Tamir Yadai and head of IDF Operations Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva are also going into quarantine.

Haliva already did one stint inside after a trip to Italy last month.

According to the military, the three met with the Home Front Command reserve officer on March 22, meaning they will need to remain in quarantine at least until the end of the week, if they do not test positive for the disease.

— Judah Ari Gross

IDF says troops were wrong to dress as medics in ultra-Orthodox areas

The IDF says commanders allowed soldiers operating in Bnei Brak to dress as medics from the Magen David Adom rescue group in order to avoid being attacked.

The military says the move was a “mistake in decision-making” by commanders in the field and soldiers should only be deployed while wearing their IDF uniforms, according to Army Radio, which first reported on the incident.

Some 700 soldiers have been deployed to back up police operations to enforce shelter-in-place orders, which have mostly centered on ultra-Orthodox communities, some of whose members have continued to congregate.

Police officers detain a man in Beit Shemesh while enforcing social distancing rules on March 31, 2020.
(Yaakov Lederman/Flash90)

The deployment of the soldiers has thrust troops who normally only operate on borders and in the West Bank into a near-unprecedented situation.

A Police officer walks with soldiers as they patrol Jerusalem city center to enforce a partial lockdown in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus on March 31, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Soldiers on leave have been attacked in the past when entering ultra-Orthodox areas while in uniform, due to deep anti-Zionist sentiment and vociferous opposition to mandatory military service among portions of the community.

On Sunday, police refused to step in to enforce social distancing measures during a mass funeral in Bnei Brak, apparently fearing that doing so could devolve into rioting.

It’ll get worse before it gets better, NYC mayor predicts

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says he expects things to worsen still for America’s worst-hit city, as it records its first death of a minor from the novel coronavirus.

“For the weeks ahead, let’s not kid ourselves, it gets a lot worse before it gets better,” de Blasio says on NBC’s “Today.”

A man wearing a facial mask walks across the middle of 5th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan of New York, March 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

New York City’s Health Department says it has recorded the city’s first death of a person under 18 years old, though details about the person’s exact age are not disclosed.

There have been 914 coronavirus deaths in New York City, the department reported Monday.

More than 1,200 have died of COVID-19 across New York state, and 9,500 people are hospitalized with the disease statewide. More than 66,000 people statewide have tested positive for the virus, including more than 38,000 in New York City.

— with AP

Condition of patient who jumped out of hospital window worsens

The condition of a COVID-19 patient who tried to escape an isolation ward at a Tiberias hospital has worsened and he is now fighting for his life, Hebrew media report.

The patient, 34, suffered serious injuries after leaping from a third-story window. He is now listed in very serious condition, according to the Ynet news website report.

The patient is on a ventilator and in an induced coma, according to Channel 12 news.

He had been doing well before the jump, according to Hebrew-language media.

Jobless numbers to top 1 million, state body predicts

The number of Israelis out of work will reach 1.1 million in the coming months, the National Insurance Institute estimates, according to Hebrew-language reports.

Some 750,000 people have already signed up for unemployment benefits this month.

The empty roads of Tel Aviv on March 27, 2020. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

According to the NII figures, an extra NIS 6.5 billion ($1.8 billion) will be needed to dole out unemployment benefits in May-June.

Russian hospital head who met Putin tests positive for virus

The head of Moscow’s main coronavirus hospital who met with Russian President Vladimir Putin a week ago has tested positive for the virus, he says.

Last Tuesday Denis Protsenko met with the Russian leader as he inspected the Kommunarka hospital while wearing a bright yellow hazmat suit. But the 67-year-old Putin was also seen talking to Protsenko without any protective gear.

A picture taken on March 24, 2020 shows Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shaking hands with the head of Moscow’s new hospital treating coronavirus (COVID-19) patients Denis Protsenko during his visit to Kommunarka hospital in Moscow. (Alexey DRUZHININ / SPUTNIK / AFP)

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tells Russian news agencies that Putin took regular tests and there was no reason to worry about his health.

“Everything is fine,” Peskov says.

— AFP

Travelers from US allowed to skip stay at quarantine hotel — report

Hundreds of travelers on a plane from New York were not sent to a special quarantine hotel after landing in Israel this afternoon, Channel 12 news reports.

The channel described the travelers as all ultra-Orthodox. It does not provide details about the flight.

New York City has become one of the world’s largest hotspots for the novel coronavirus, killing over 900 people and sickening tens of thousands more. The city’s close-knit ultra-Orthodox communities have been particularly hard hit by the virus.

Under new rules that went into effect Saturday, all travelers from the US must spend 14 days in a quarantine hotel upon landing in Israel.

Sierra Leone joins family of coronavirus-stricken nations

Sierra Leone has announced its first coronavirus case.

The West African nation already announced a year-long state of emergency over the pandemic. Sierra Leone was one of the three nations hit hard from 2014-16 by the Ebola outbreak, which killed more than 11,000 people.

Forty eight of Africa’s 54 countries now have the coronavirus.

— AP

Over 800,000 coronavirus cases worldwide

The number of coronavirus cases worldwide has surpassed 800,000 and the death toll will likely soon top 40,000, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.

The global tally sits at 803,000. The US leads the way with over 160,000 cases, and Italy has just over 100,000 cases.

The numbers point to the shocking acceleration of the virus as it wreaks havoc on Europe, the US and begins to surge elsewhere as well. It took until March 24 for the world to hit its first 400,000 cases.

The global death toll stands at just over 39,000, led by Italy and Spain. With over 3,100 deaths, the US is expected to soon become the third country to surpass China’s death toll.

The global death toll stood at 20,000 just six days ago.

Bennett: Travelers from Italy, US won’t be tested upon landing

Despite announcing that all arrivals from the US, Italy, Spain and France would undergo testing and be sent to a quarantine hotel upon landing in Israel, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett now indicates that the plan was trashed by his superiors.

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett inspects the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv, which was converted into a quarantine facility for carriers of the coronavirus on March 16, 2020. (Naftali Bennett’s Twitter account)

Asked why a group of travelers from New York who landed this afternoon were not tested or sent to hotels, Bennett tells Channel 12 that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and National Security Adviser Meir Ben Shabbat decided to go in a different direction and just send travelers from those countries to home quarantine.

“Not every program you want is enacted,” he says, indicating that a shortage of test kits may have been a factor.

Bennett’s office had announced the program last week as a done deal, not a proposal, and never said it had been shelved.

El Al to break record with non-stop Melbourne rescue flight

El Al is planning a rescue flight from Melbourne to Tel Aviv to transport Israelis stuck Down Under amid the coronavirus crisis.

At 17 hours and 40 minutes, the direct flight will be the longest ever attempted by the airline, El Al says. A 17-hour rescue flight from Peru last week had set the previous record.

Israeli travelers enjoy a celebratory arrival at Ben Gurion Airport, March 23, 2020. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The airline had already been planning on launching a Tel Aviv-Melbourne route in April.

El Al says the rescue flight was requested by Foreign Minister Israel Katz. It says more flights may be added if needed.

Israel has been arranging rescue flights to return its nationals stranded abroad as borders around the world close.

 

Police set up checkpoints around Bnei Brak

Police have set up checkpoints around the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak and are checking IDs of anyone trying to enter.

Government officials have been moving toward placing a cordon around the city of nearly 200,000, which has become one of the country’s largest coronavirus epicenters with 571 confirmed cases.

The Ynet news site describes the roadblocks as “breathing” checkpoints, meaning police are not actually stopping most drivers.

Channel 12 news notes that the checkpoints are designed to mostly make sure multiple passengers aren’t in the cars and to make sure residents are aware of the city’s precarious situation.

Authorities have upped enforcement of social-distancing rules in Bnei Brak and other ultra-Orthodox areas, where some have flouted rules against congregating or leaving home for non-essential reasons.

Man dies after getting COVID-19, raising death toll to 19

A man in his 70s has died after becoming sick with COVID-19, Assuta hospital in Ashdod says.

The death raises Israel’s tally to 19.

The man suffered from pre-existing conditions, according to the hospital.

Italy records 837 new deaths, but officials see ‘plateau’

Italy says another 837 people have died of the novel coronavirus, pushing the global death toll well past 40,000, and bringing its own tally to 12,428 dead, the highest in the world.

It says another 4,053 infections were confirmed to bring Italy’s total confirmed cases to 105,792.

Despite the grim numbers, the head of Italy’s national institutes of health says the country has hit the “plateau” in its coronavirus infection rate, three weeks into a national lockdown, and should start to see a decline in new cases.

Dr. Silvio Brusaferro stresses that it would be folly to relax Italy’s productivity shutdown and stay-at-home restrictions now, even though the rate of new virus infections is slowing.

But he says, “The curve suggests we are at the plateau. We have to confirm it, because arriving at the plateau doesn’t mean we have conquered the peak and we’re done. It means now we should start to see the decline if we continue to place maximum attention on what we do every day.”

— with AP

US death toll climbs past 3,500, eclipsing China

The US death toll from the coronavirus has climbed past 3,500, eclipsing China’s official count.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo reported Tuesday that deaths in New York state had risen more than 300 from the day before, reaching about 1,550, mostly in New York City.

That puts the US ahead of China’s official death toll of about 3,300.

— AP

CNN host Cuomo, governor’s brother, has coronavirus

CNN prime-time host Chris Cuomo says he has tested positive for the coronavirus but promises to continue doing his show from the basement of his home.

Cuomo, who did his 9 p.m. Eastern show remotely Monday, said he’s had fever, chills and shortness of breath.

“I just hope I didn’t give it to the kids and Cristina,” he tweeted, in a reference to his wife.

Cuomo’s older brother, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, has been one of the most visible political figures during the pandemic, and appeared on his brother’s show remotely on Monday.

The governor discussed his younger brother during his daily press briefing Tuesday morning.

“He’s a really, sweet beautiful guy, and he’s my best friend,” the governor said of his brother.

— AP

Hospital head slams government for not testing arrivals from New York

Soroka Medical Center head Dr. Gabi Barabash criticizes the government for canceling a plan to test and forcefully quarantine anyone arriving from the US or other virus hotspots.

“People landing today at Ben-Gurion from hotspots, from the US, Spain, Italy and France, simply walk into the country. Nobody checks that they are going into quarantine. Nobody tests them for coronavirus,” he tells Channel 12 news.

While most travel into Israel has been pared back, daily flights from New York have continued.

He predicts that the result will turn Israel into an “outpost of New York,” one of the world’s worst hit areas.

“Everything we’ve achieved to date will be lost,” he says.

Missile factory transformed into ventilator production line

The Defense Ministry says it is beginning to make its own ventilators along with Israel Aerospace Industries and medical firm Inovytec, using a production line usually used to build missiles.

It says 30 Ventway Sparrow ventilators built by the collaborative effort have already been sent to the Health Ministry.

The country currently has some 2,400 breathing machines, enough for the current number of seriously sick, but could become easily overwhelmed, with tight competition across the globe to procure more.

“The State of Israel must develop independent capabilities in everything related to dealing with the COVID-19 virus pandemic. We cannot remain dependent on procurement from other countries,” says Defense Minister Naftali Bennett in a statement.

IAI, the nation’s largest aerospace and defense firm, has also been involved in innovating other solutions, such as a UV light to disinfect masks.

Minister pushing to allow virus victims to be buried in Israel — report

Health Minister Yaakov Litzman is pushing to okay the burial of Diaspora Jews who die from the coronavirus in Israel, despite opposition from his own office, the Kan public broadcaster reports.

Some religious Jews believe it is an honor to be buried in Israel and arrange to have their bodies interred there after death.

Illustrative: Undertakers carry a coffin for a burial at a Barcelona cemetery during the coronavirus outbreak, Spain, Friday, March 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

But Health Ministry officials say allowing the bodies to be buried here could pose a health risk. Experts believe the virus continues to live after host bodies pass away, leading some Jewish leaders to even urge cremation, usually forbidden in Jewish tradition.

Orthodox communities in New York, London and elsewhere have been especially hard hit by the virus.

Don’t turn Bnei Brak into a ghetto, mayor cautions

Bnei Brak Mayor Avraham Rubinstein is pleading with authorities not to place a cordon on his virus-hit city, comparing it to the darkest period in Jewish history.

“You cannot build a new prison, the Bnei Brak prison. Reality will not allow it,” he says from self-quarantine. “Residents won’t stand for a closure, and this recommendation will have the opposite affect. You cannot turn Bnei Brak into a ghetto. A lockdown will not heal the disease.”

Israeli police talk to a driver at a checkpoint in Bnei Brak, a predominantly ultra-Orthodox city east of Tel Aviv, on March 31, 2020, as part of measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus. (Jack Guez/AFP)

Authorities are reportedly near signing off on the placement of a cordon around the city, effectively cutting off access and forcing people to remain at home. Some residents of the ultra-Orthodox Tel Aviv suburb of 200,000 have proven reluctant to comply with social-distancing measures, an attitude repeated in several places with large ultra-Orthodox populations.

So far, 517 people in the city have been confirmed to have the disease, second only to the number of cases in Jerusalem. Residents of neighboring areas have expressed fear that the virus could easily spread beyond the city’s borders.

Syria: Air defenses deployed against ‘hostile targets’ over Homs

Syria’s state news agency says its air defenses “confronted hostile targets” over the central city of Homs.

It does not provide details.

Man, 90, dies from virus, raising death toll to 20

A 90-year-old man hospitalized in central Israel has reportedly died after contracting the coronavirus raising the country’s death toll to 20.

The man suffered from preexisting conditions and had been hooked up to a ventilator, Wolfson Hospital in Holon says, according to Hebrew media reports.

The death is Israel’s fourth on Tuesday, the highest single-day toll yet.

Netanyahu asks Defense Ministry for enough tests to do 30,000 a day

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the Defense Ministry to acquire enough test kits to perform 30,000 tests a day, his office says.

The Health Ministry has stopped announcing how many tests it is performing, but on March 25 said it had performed 5,000 tests the day before.

Officials had sought to bring Israel up to 10,000 tests a day.

Explosions reported at major Syrian air base

Multiple explosions are being reported at Shayrat airbase, near Homs, in what some are calling an Israeli attack.

The base is one of the regime’s most significant installations in the center of the country.

This satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows an image captured on April 7 of destroyed aircraft shelters on the southeast side of the Shayrat air base in Syria, following US Tomahawk Land Attack Missile strikes on Friday, April 7, 2017 from the USS Ross (DDG 71) and USS Porter (DDG 78). (DigitalGlobe via AP)

Syria expert Charles Lister tweets that the base houses fighters from the Hezbollah terror group and the Iranian Quds Force.

https://twitter.com/Charles_Lister/status/1245050015535554560

In August, Syria said 31 regime and allied fighters were killed when a weapons delivery exploded.

In 2017, US airstrikes hit the base in response to a suspected sarin gas attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun in northwest Syria that killed more than 80 people.

According to the Pentagon, US intelligence had established that the base was the launchpad for the alleged chemical attack.

Israel does not generally acknowledge individual sorties in Syria.

Syria accuses Israel of being behind air attack

Syria SANA state news agency accuses Israel of being behind the attack on Homs.

It says Israeli jets fired the missiles from Lebanese airspace but air defenses managed to intercept “a number of missiles before they reached their target.”

Monitor: Eight missiles fired at Homs base

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that Israeli planes fired at least eight missiles at the Shayrat airbase near Homs.

There is no immediate word on casualties or damage.

No going back to pre-coronavirus world, top security official says

After the current coronavirus pandemic is over, Israel will find itself in an “entirely different” world, National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat says in a briefing to cabinet minister.

National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat speaks during a press conference about the coronavirus COVID-19, at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on March 25, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

According to Ben-Shabbat, who is coordinating the various government agencies’ response to the pandemic, the current policies aims at achieving four things: slowing the spread of the disease; improving emergency preparedness as the pandemic rages on; creating conditions to return to normalcy and, finally, a “slow, careful and gradual return to a routine that is entirely different from anything we knew before.”

The slow return to pre-COVID-19 days will take place “only after Passover and only after the preparations have concluded,” Ben-Shabbat says.

“We’re still in a dangerous area. All it takes is one day like Purim, or one [other kind of mass] gathering, in order to fail to thwart all our efforts, and therefore we are obligated to continue with the existing limitations and follow all instructions.”

— Raphael Ahren

Top ministers set to discuss Shin Bet tracking program

The high-level security cabinet is set to begin meeting now to discuss the government’s controversial policy to let the Shin Bet use invasive tracking technology in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, the Prime Minister’s Office says.

It’s not immediately known what aspects of the program will be discussed.

Lebanon confirms Israeli jets overflew airspace

Lebanon’s National News Agency says residents reported hearing Israeli jets in the Keserwan and al-Matn regions northeast of Beirut.

Footage published online appear to show the attack. In one video, anti-aircraft fire can be seen rising into the sky as explosions echo and sirens ring out.

Health Ministry reports over 5,300 confirmed coronavirus cases

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases has rocketed to 5,358, a leap of 527 cases since the last update some 12 hours ago.

The numbers show a jump of 663 cases in the last 24 hours, the largest single-day spike yet recorded.

Ninety-four people in serious condition, 76 on ventilators

The new numbers released by the Health Ministry include 94 people in serious condition, 76 of them hooked up to ventilators.

Another 105 are in moderate condition, and 224 have fully recovered, according to the Health Ministry.

MDA estimates 8,000 test swabs taken Tuesday

Magen David Adom predicts it will have collected some 8,000 samples by the end of Tuesday, with about half of them being taken at a number of drive-through testing sites.

It says 250 people were swabbed in Bnei Brak, where it opened a mobile site earlier in the day amid concerns about the quick spread of the disease through the ultra-Orthodox city.

Some 1,200 people were tested at Tel Aviv’s drive-through site, 791 in Jerusalem, 822 in Haifa and 567 in Beer Sheba. Another 261 people were swabbed in the Galilee town of Tamra, the only testing site in an Arab majority area.

A paramedic of Israel’s Magen David Adom national emergency medical service handles a swab to test for coronavirus at a drive-thru testing site in the northern Israeli city of Tamra on March 31, 2020. (Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP)

It says only “dozens” showed up to a site in Modi’in, but it expects more people to arrive there.

The Health Ministry has not released info about the number of daily tests completed since March 25.

 

 

Government expected to extend Shin Bet tracking program for a month

Channel 12 news reports that the government is expected to extend the authority of the Shin Bet to use phone data in order to track coronavirus carriers and possibly enforce quarantine orders.

An ad hoc Knesset oversight committee earlier okayed the use of the data “after marathon discussions,” allowing “Shin Bet to help in efforts to halt the spread of coronavirus for a month” until April 30, the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee said in a statement.

According to Channel 12, the Health Ministry will be allowed to hold the data for 60 days for use in internal studies.

– with AFP

Tel Aviv city hall lights up with Old Glory

Tel Aviv has lit up its city hall with the red, white and blue to show solidarity with the US as it battles the coronavirus pandemic.

Mayor Ron Huldai gives a shout out to Tel Aviv’s “partner cities” New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami, Los Angeles and San Antonio.

“We hold you close to our hearts,” he tweets.

US Ambassador David Friedman says he is touched by the gesture. “We will get through this together,” he tweets.

Group reaches out to Bedouin community with virus rules

An Israeli civil-society organization has launched a campaign on social media aimed at raising awareness in Bedouin communities regarding the importance of following government guidelines aimed at curbing the coronavirus outbreak.

The Arab-Jewish Center for Empowerment, Equality, and Cooperation-Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Economic Development (or AJEEC-NISPED to the cool kids) has released four videos aimed at reaching the roughly 260,000 Bedouin Israelis living in villages in the Negev, many of whom have not seen the Health Ministry messages thus far.

The videos feature senior members and influencers in the Bedouin community and will be distributed primarily over WhatsApp as well as Facebook and other social media platforms accessible to cellphone users.

With many of the Bedouin communities lacking a consistent supply of water and electricity, residents often don’t have access to televisions, where updated Health Ministry guidelines are shared, AJEEC-NISPED says in a statement.

Pandemic largest global challenge since World War II, UN chief says

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is warning that the world faces the most challenging crisis since World War II, confronting a pandemic threatening people in every country that will bring a recession “that probably has no parallel in the recent past.”

The UN chief says there is also a risk that the combination of the disease and its economic impact will contribute to “enhanced instability, enhanced unrest, and enhanced conflict.”

Guterres calls for a stronger and more effective global response to the coronavirus pandemic and to the social and economic devastation that COVID-19 is causing.

He stresses that this will only be possible “if everybody comes together and if we forget political games and understand that it is humankind that is at stake.”

“The magnitude of the response must match the scale of the crisis — large-scale, coordinated and comprehensive, with country and international responses being guided by the World Health Organization,” the secretary-general says, noting that not all countries are following WHO guidelines.

— AP

Pompeo won’t rule out sanctions relief for Iran

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has left open the possibility of offering Iran sanctions relief in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Asked at a press conference if the US might re-evaluate its punishing sanctions regime, Pompeo answers that “We evaluate all of our policies constantly, so the answer is – would we ever rethink? – Of course,” Reuters reports.

Pompeo notes that medical and humanitarian supplies are already exempt from the sanctions, which were reimposed in 2018 following the US decision to pull out of the nuclear deal.

Earlier Tuesday, European nations used the Instex mechanism for the first time to bypass sanctions and send medical goods to Iran, the German foreign ministry said.

“France, Germany and the United Kingdom confirm that Instex has successfully concluded its first transaction, facilitating the export of medical goods from Europe to Iran. These goods are now in Iran,” the ministry said in a statement.

— with AFP

Two more coronavirus cases found in Gaza

Two more people have been confirmed to have the novel coronavirus in Gaza, bringing the total there to 12, the Hamas-run health ministry says.

The ministry says both people had been in quarantine after returning from a trip abroad. It says their condition is “stable and reassuring.”

— Adam Rasgon

Virus racing through US aircraft carrier, captain says

The captain of the US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt has told the Pentagon that the coronavirus is spreading uncontrollably through his ship and calls for immediate help to quarantine its huge crew.

Captain Brett Crozier writes in a four-page letter that they had not been able to stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus through the 4,000 crewmembers, describing a dire situation aboard the vessel now docked at Guam.

US Navy Airman Zackary Knabe writes down aircraft identifiers on primary flight control room window aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) in the Persian Gulf on January 4, 2018. (US Navy/ Spencer Roberts)

“We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die,” Crozier writes, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, which published a copy of the letter Tuesday.

“The spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating,” Crozier writes, referring to the ship’s “inherent limitations of space.”

He asks to be able to quarantine nearly the entire crew onshore at Guam, saying keeping them all on board the ship was an “unnecessary risk.”

“Removing the majority of personnel from a deployed US nuclear aircraft carrier and isolating them for two weeks may seem like an extraordinary measure,” he says. “This is a necessary risk.”

— AFP

Night music for a time of coronavirus

Finally, after a day that saw more death, more disease, fears of a forever changed world and few signs of hope, we leave you with a bright spot shining through the grim reality: Omri Blau of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra performing Bach’s Hunting Cantata, “Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd, BWV 208a,” with himself and himself.

יצירה בימי קורונה – עמרי בלאו

עמרי בלאו 3x! הנקשן הנפלא שלנו בקטע מתוך הקנטטה Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd, רי״ב 208!Playing Music in Corona Times: Our wonderful percussionist Omri Blau (x3!) playing an excerpt fro Bach's 'Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd', BWV 208

פורסם על ידי ‏‎Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra‎‏ ב- יום שני, 30 במרץ 2020

For those looking for something with a bit more oomph, here is the Jerusalem Orchestra East-West performing “Corona Barbuka.”

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Jerusalem has most virus cases, followed by Bnei Brak

The Health Ministry releases information on the number of virus cases in Israel’s cities.

It shows the Haredi city of Bnei Brak trailing Jerusalem, which is five times larger, by some 80 cases.

A breakdown:

Jerusalem — 650
Bnei Brak — 571
Tel Aviv — 278
Ashkelon — 114
Rishon Lezion — 103
Petach Tikva — 96
Netanya — 83
Beersheba — 83
Ashdod — 81
Ramat Gan — 81
Bat Yam — 76
Beit Shemesh — 76
Holon — 75
Migdal Ha’emek — 72
Elad — 68
Haifa — 67
Raanana — 57
Rehovot — 53
Herzliya — 53
Efrat — 52
Modiin Illit — 48
Beitar Illit — 38
Lod — 37
Kiryat Ono — 33
Tiberias — 32
Kfar Saba — 36
Ramat Hasharon — 28
Ramle — 25
Hod Hasharon — 25
Kiryat Gat — 22
Givatayim — 22
Hadera — 20
Safed — 19
Nahariya — 16
Sderot — 13
Kiryat Ata — 12
Rosh Ha’ayin — 10
Rahat — 4
Nazareth — 3