Local news translated – Thursday, August 4, 2022

Host Nation Update, August 4, 2022

Bacteria in the water – Water in Esslingen must be boiled

The health department and the Esslingen public utilities informed on Wednesday afternoon “that currently the microbiological limit specified in the Drinking Water Ordinance for the areas Hohenkreuz, St. Bernhardt, Kennenburg, Hasenrainweg as well as Serach and parts of the city center north of the Altstadtring is exceeded.” In short, the drinking water in these areas of the city is contaminated with bacteria and therefore must be boiled before use. In addition, the water in these areas is chlorinated by the municipal utilities.  During an inspection on Tuesday, Escherichia coli – i.e. coliform bacteria – were detected in the outlet of the Serach elevated tank, exceeding the allowable limit of zero. In other words, coliform bacteria must not be present in drinking water. In order to exclude health hazards, it is therefore necessary, according to the health department, to boil the water once and then cool it for at least ten minutes before using it for drinking, cooking or preparing food or drinks.

In addition, only boiled tap water should be used for preparing food, washing dishes, brushing teeth and cleaning open wounds. For toilet flushing and similar purposes, such as cleaning or watering, on the other hand, tap water can be used without restrictions.

In order to restore an uncontaminated drinking water supply, the Esslingen municipal utility is already carrying out extensive measures in coordination with the public health department. Among other things, the drinking water is temporarily chlorinated to kill the germs.  The cause, how and why it came to the entry of the coliform bacteria, is not yet determined. However, according to the Esslingen municipal utility, control samples have already been taken and must now be evaluated. As soon as the drinking water supply is restored under the usual conditions, the population will be informed immediately.

(Stuttgarter Zeitung, August 3)

HN Update, Aug 4, 2022

The B-W State Health Authority (LGA) reported that as of 3 AUG 2022, B-W had a hospitalization 7-D-I of 4.6 (-0.3), there were 110 (-9) COVID-19 patients in ICUs, and COVID-19 patients in B-W occupied 5.1% (-0.4) of the total operational ICU beds. RKI reported those numbers Germany-wide at 6.36, 1,441 (-27), and 6.8%, respectively. As of 3 AUG 2022, B-W had 10,274 new cases, 21 additional deaths, and about 305,550 active cases. Fifteen of B-W’s 44 counties had 7-D-Is over 500, including Calw (506.4) and Esslingen (514.2). Mannheim, in the USAG Rheinland-Pfalz footprint, had a 7-D-I of 634.1. The overall 7-D-I rate in B-W was 479.7 (-38.9), above the national 7-D-I average of 477.9. The estimated reproduction rate in B-W was 0.76. In B-W, as of 3 AUG 2022, 8,400,422 (+142 / 75.7%) people had received an initial vaccination, 8,266,513 (+181 / 74.5%) were fully vaccinated, and 7,350,195 (+4,292 / 66.2%) had received booster vaccinations. (B-W/RKI, Aug 3, 2022)

Upcoming Fall: Planned COVID (counter) measures for fall

Mask requirement yes, Lockdown no

The federal government coalition (SPD, FDP, and Greens) have now agreed on the following COVID measures for the fall: A nationwide mask obligation should only apply in long-distance public transportation and in clinics and hospitals.   The individual states can enact stricter rules, however, lockdowns are off. Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) and Federal Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP) have presented a package of COVID measures for the fall. The current COVID rules in the Infection Protection Act are set to expire on September 23. The two ministers had wrangled for weeks over a rewrite of the rules, which are to apply until April 7, 2023.

Agreement on new rules for the Infection Protection Act

According to the agreement, from October 1, 2022, masks will only be mandatory in air transport, long-distance public transport and in hospitals and care facilities throughout Germany. Only in hospitals and care facilities testing will be required. The only exceptions to testing requirements are for those recently vaccinated and recovered persons, as well as for persons who are treated, cared for or nursed in the respective facilities or by the respective service providers. 

Additional measures for states: the individual states can take additional measures if the pandemic situation so requires, such as a mask requirement indoors. However, there must be exceptions for tested, newly vaccinated, and newly recovered individuals in cultural, recreational, sports, and food service environment. The states can also mandate testing in certain community settings, as well as mandatory masking in schools and other educational settings. However, this requirement can only be demanded starting from the fifth grade. According to Bushman, surgical masks instead of FFP2 masks should then also be sufficient in schools.

“There will be no lockdowns, no school closures and no exit restrictions in the fall,” Gabor Halasz, ARD Berlin, on the new regulation of the Infection Protection Act.

However, the individual states can enact tougher measures if there is a threat of overloading the healthcare system or critical infrastructure; then the state parliaments are to decide. Possible measures could include mandatory masks for indoors and even outdoors if the minimum distance cannot be maintained, mandatory hygiene concepts and upper limits for participants at events. “In that case, there should also no longer be exceptions for tested, recovered and the vaccinated,” Buschmann said. “Restrictions on freedom should only exist if they are necessary. Lockdowns and curfews are therefore not in the plans in our policies.” Buschmann and Lauterbach stressed that the elderly and other vulnerable groups should continue to receive special protection.

“What is important is that the draft law here creates the possibility for further measures in the federal states. Whether these will actually come in the fall, however, as of today, is not yet certain. That depends on whether the individual states use and implement the possibilities. So, for example, whether or not they would demand mandatory masks indoors in the fall.”  The enactment is planned to pass for September. The new rules are to be tied to an ongoing legislative process in the Bundestag and adopted in the first week of session in September. The Bundesrat is expected to give its approval on Sept. 16 so that the new rules come into force before the current measures expire. Federal Health Minister Lauterbach told the Media that he was pleased with the agreement. “I think the package is very good.” The compromise that has now been reached “and would simultaneously protect against an overload of too many COVID patients and any critical situation due to staff shortages,” Lauterbach stressed.  (Tagesschau.de, August 3)