IDF medical corps to staff Rambam's underground coronavirus wards

The hospital in Haifa has transformed their underground parking lot to two coronavirus wards

IDF Home Front Command troops prepare to help officials enforce coronavirus restrictions (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
IDF Home Front Command troops prepare to help officials enforce coronavirus restrictions
Over a hundred military personnel from the IDF’s medical corps will begin treating coronavirus patients at the underground parking lot of Rambam Hospital in Haifa, the military announced on Thursday.
The underground parking lot has been transformed into patient bays that can treat some 770 patients. The doctors, paramedics, nurses, and medics from the military will staff the two coronavirus wards which will be treating patients in moderate condition.
The military expects that it will take two weeks to a month before the troops will be treating patients.
“This is the first time that I have known that the IDF will be treating civilians on the territory of the State of Israel,” said IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Hidai Zilberman, adding that the IDF “will use troops from the medical corps and its equipment to supplement Rambam’s equipment.”
According to Zilberman, the military decided to collaborate with the hospital in Haifa due to the high number of cases in Israel’s north which has been hit particularly hard during the second wave.
Israel currently has 68,811 active cases and 1,571 people have died. The Israeli military currently has 1,016 servicemembers who have been diagnosed with the virus, all in light condition, and recovering either at home or at military coronavirus facilities in Ashkelon and Olga. Another 3,500 are in quarantine.
“The rise in both the public sphere and military is very concerning for us,” Zilberman said, adding that the IDF has made it the number one priority.
The military has reinforced the Homefront Command with some 3,500 troops and another 3,000 reservists. An additional 1,450 troops and reservists are assisting authorities in red zones on behalf of the Homefront Command and 1,000 soldiers are assisting the Israel Police.
But, Zilberman said, “it is difficult for me to say that assistance in enforcement is highly effective.”
On Tuesday night, the Israeli military decided not to place soldiers at police checkpoints in order to help enforce the lockdown in Jerusalem.
Earlier in the week, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that placing troops near demonstrations was a “mistake that has already been addressed and will not be repeated.  He made the remark after two women insulted a soldier in Jerusalem who was manning a police checkpoint near the Knesset, telling him that he should be ashamed of himself for helping to stop protests.
The IDF has also tightened regulations for troops, including announcing Sunday that all soldiers due back at their bases on Tuesday following the Yom Kippur holiday must prepare for an extended stay for a period of up to one month amid efforts to contain the continued spread of the coronavirus.
Exceptions will be made by officers holding the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and higher.
Zilberman also noted that about 350 soldiers and reservists are helping staff units in hospitals and another 500 reservists are serving in 26 coronavirus hotels around the country.
Last week the IDF announced the establishment of the Homefront Command’s “Ella” unit which would carry out epidemiological investigations with new technology that would help the Health Ministry by streamlining and improving its ability to cut the chain of coronavirus infection.
According to Zilberman, there will be 2,800 troops carrying out epidemiological investigations by mid-November, up from the current 1,700 investigators.
With the rise of coronavirus cases around the country, the IDF decided this week to cut back on the number of reservists set to take part in the General Staff exercise scheduled for early November. According to Zilberman, some 1,500 reservists will be cut from the drill in an attempt to reduce contact with the civilian sphere. All drills for reservists for the month of October have also been canceled.