Public hospitals announce they won’t accept new corona patients beginning Monday * Over 10% of 40-year-olds got the third shot in three days.

Source: ROSSELLA TERCATIN, MAAYAN JAFFE-HOFFMAN

Schools in Israel will open according to routine on September 1, the coronavirus cabinet voted just after midnight Sunday.The decision came after an hours-long meeting attended by parents, teachers and educational administrators.With the High Holy Days beginning on sundown on September 6 and falling on weekdays this year, meaning there are few full days of learning before October 1, many ministers had been pushing to delay the return of children to classrooms – at least in preschools and lower grades, where they are not eligible for a vaccine.

However, the cabinet accepted the plan presented by Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton that will allow all kids to go back to their classrooms.According to the plan, students over the age of 12 will be able to be vaccinated on school grounds during school hours, subject to parental approval. Students under the age of 12 will be asked to present a negative coronavirus test result on opening day.Parents are being provided with free rapid antigen testing kits and are asked to swab their kids within 48 hours of September 1.

“Check the boy or the girl, and fill out a note confirming that they are negative to coronavirus,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said at the opening the meeting.In red cities, students in grade eight through 12 will be forced to study online unless at least 70% of students are vaccinated or recovered. So far, 41% of students 12-15 have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 79% of students 16-19.Moreover, the Green Pass outline will apply to educational staff, meaning all teachers, aides and other workers must be vaccinated or present a negative COVID-19 to enter the facilities.  People waiting in line at an MDA station to receive their coronavirus vaccines in Tel Aviv, August 14 2021 (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

Bennett said the next two weeks are going to be very delicate in seeing where the country is going.“I can now state it from here: We can beat this wave,” he said. “If the public continues to get vaccinated en masse, if we continue to wear masks properly, if we continue to behave responsibly, we will celebrate the holidays with the family, freely.”Last Thursday night, Israel opened eligibility for a booster to all individuals over the age of 40.As of Sunday, more than 10% of Israelis ages 40-49 had already received a coronavirus booster shot.

Some 1.43 million people have received a third shot, about three weeks after Israel launched the vaccination campaign for those over 60 who were fully inoculated at least five months earlier.Bennett said the eligibility would likely be opened to all ages soon and in the meantime asked those who have not gotten a booster to be careful.The authorities believe that thanks to the effect of the vaccination campaign, Israel will be able to curb the spike in cases and serious morbidity and avoid a lockdown in September.At the cabinet, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz reportedly also recommended a general cap on gatherings at 500 people outdoors and 400 people indoors.As of Sunday, there were some 669 patients in serious condition, with the increase in cases appearing to be slowing down.

Last Sunday, there were 535 patients in serious condition. Two weeks earlier, there were 362.Also on Sunday, public hospitals said due to a lack of a state budget, beginning on Monday they would not accept any new coronavirus patients, and on Wednesday they are going to switch to Shabbat mode.So-called public hospitals are independent organizations that rely mostly on donations, as opposed to facilities directly owned and funded by the government or the health funds. They include Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center and Hadassah-University Medical Center, Netanya’s Laniado Medical Center, Bnei Brak’s Ma’ayanei Hayeshua Medical Center and three hospitals in Nazareth, serving some two million people, or about 20% of the population.In January, the hospitals began a long protest due to a financial crisis, with the organizers denouncing that their facilities had received only about half the funds per bed that government-owned hospitals received.The crisis ended when the government agreed to increase their budgets.

However, the hospitals now accuse the authorities of not fulfilling their promises.“I’m ashamed to stand here like a beggar,” said Shaare Zedek CEO Prof. Ofer Marin during an emergency press conference. “The State of Israel is violating the agreement with the public hospitals. None of the clauses of the agreement have been fulfilled. Our suppliers have collapsed. Our employees may not receive holiday pay. Our patients may not receive optimal care.”Hadassah CEO Prof. Yoram Weiss said: “The time has come for the hospitals in Jerusalem, Nazareth, Bnei Brak and Netanya to receive the appropriate budgets. In this way, our patients will be able to receive the proper care, as the residents of Tel Aviv do.”