Social issues in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis

The various restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have limited interpersonal relations in terms of physical meetings and posed unique difficulties and challenges for the government and the authorities, among other things, in the provision and inspection of social services. After a protracted period of crisis, the government and authorities will face the key question of which issues to prioritize in the process of emerging from the pandemic. The Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute (MJB) enlisted its research teams in a multi-disciplinary effort yielding a list of social issues which, in our opinion, should be the focus of attention as Israel emerges from the crisis, in order to strengthen Israeli society.

Personal, Family and Community Welfare

  • The escalation of family conflicts, and domestic violence and abuse (emotional, sexual, and physical)
  • Widespread depression, anxiety, and suicidality in wake of the first wave of morbidity and, especially, upon the manifestation of the second
  • Family caregivers: To date, the focus has been on children in special education, not on caregivers of the elderly and people with disabilities
  • The accelerated increase of risk behaviors among people living in poverty and exclusion, such as delinquency, alcohol and substance abuse, smoking and gambling
  • Reducing alienation from, and hatred of, the ultra-Orthodox population

Children and Education

  • Regulation of pedagogic methods for remote learning and training of teaching staff
  • Narrowing educational gaps that only widened in the first wave of the pandemic between different groups of students (center vs. periphery, Arabs, ultra-Orthodox, large families, people living in poverty) against the background of gaps in infrastructure (e.g., bandwidth), in means (e.g., computers), and in ability (e.g., digital literacy)
  • Ensuring the continuity of children’s nutrition programs in schools and other frameworks

The Elderly

  • Reducing to a minimum expressions of ageism and ongoing harm to the autonomy of the elderly
  • Active restoration of the elderly to the public sphere given their extreme social distancing from it and the anxiety of returning to it
  • Identification and treatment of depression among the elderly
  • Prevention and treatment of malnutrition among isolated elders

Health and Social Services

  • Transparency and equity in mechanisms of prioritization for the receipt of medications and vaccines
  • The steep rise in consumption of online medical services demands regulation and control of content, substance, and effectiveness
  • Ensuring availability, accessibility, and quality responses for people with cognitive, mental, and physical disabilities
  • Regulation of status of welfare, institutional, and out-of-home placement employees (boarding facilities, daycare centers, and shelters) as essential workers
  • Delineation of measures to prevent contagion and the establishment of morbidity centers in out-of-home frameworks

Bedouin Population

  • Adaptation of the government’s Five-Year Plan to the needs of the hour, and continued reduction of the widening gaps to a minimum

Monitoring and Capacity-building in Social Services

  • Accessibility, cross-referencing, and availability of national and municipal public databases for ongoing monitoring of the social situation, the detection of “hotspots,” and follow-up on the impact of national interventions (“flattening the welfare curve”)
  • Reinforcement of national and international cooperation for the exchange of knowledge and the development of joint procedures to strengthen society

For MJB’s publications on the COVID-19 pandemic in English, press here.

For MJB’s publications on the COVID-19 pandemic in Hebrew, press here.