Gamzu’s New Coronavirus Strategy Up for Vote on Monday

Coronavirus task-force commissioner Professor Ronni Gamzu. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The “traffic light” model devised by coronavirus task-force commissioner, Professor Prof. Ronni Gamzu, will go up for vote at the Coronavirus Cabinet on Monday, and if approved, will come into effect on September 1.

The model seeks to reduce morbidity in the country using a differential strategy, dividing the campaign according to municipalities, with uniform rules of conduct and restrictions adapted to the morbidity situation in each municipality. At its core, the Gamzu strategy transfers a large part of the treatment of the disease from the state to the local authorities.

The new plan, which was revealed Sunday in Yediot Acharonot, divides the country into 250 local municipal authorities. Each municipality will receive a weighted score that will determine its traffic light color for a period of two weeks: green, yellow, orange or red. Each one of them will receive a score based on its handling of the pandemic that will be reassessed biweekly and restrictions will be adjusted accordingly.

Gamzu’s plan aims to treat coronavirus outbreaks on a local level and transfers a large part of the treatment of the disease from the state to local authorities. It also sets uniform rules of conduct and restrictions that will be adjusted according to infection rates in each community.

The score will be based on three factors – the number of new patients, the percentage of positive coronavirus test results, and changes in the scope of the epidemic within the community.

“The most important measure is the rate of positive tests, in order to avoid a situation where people are not getting tested enough and produce latent illness,” said Gamzu.

“Each mayor who wants to improve [his/her] city’s rating on the traffic light scale will have to make sure its residents are getting tested even in cases of mild symptoms.”

Some authorities will have coronavirus testing patrol vehicles that will go to residents’ homes.

Activities in shuls, restaurants, fairs, indoor cultural events, mikvaos, hotels, markets, cafes, swimming pools will all be contingent upon the city’s rating. Education, public transportation, workplaces, and mass sports and cultural events will not be affected.

“Close contact with the IDF Home Front Command will enable quick epidemiological investigations and the transfer of patients to hotels,” said Gamzu. “In the event of an outbreak, the mayor will set up drive-in coronavirus testing stations, and the tests will be sent to Home Front Command laboratories. This way, we will be able to crack down quickly on new virus hotspots.

Gamzu also urged citizens to report any violation of health guidelines. “As soon as you see an unlawful gathering going on next to you, pick up the phone and report this to the municipal hotline,” Gamzu said. “Whoever condones such behavior and does not warn of it will be complicit for any harm caused to their neighborhood.”

The traffic light outline was discussed in the Corona Cabinet meeting last Thursday but was not approved due to the objection of Ministers Rabbi Aryeh Deri and Rabbi Yaakov Litzman regarding the restrictions on tefillos in shuls, while in other places the restrictions have been eased. In response, Gamzu has now announced that he is working to create a model that would allow tefillos in “capsules” in large shuls.