LOCAL UPDATE: Baden-Württemberg reports 65 new COVID-19 cases (May 19) and now has a total 34,071, of which 30,209 people recovered. There have been 1,673 COVID-19-related deaths in in the state.
Daily Host Nation Stories for May 19, 2020
Sindelfingen, USAG Stuttgart children bring joy to nursing home
Sindelfingen’s Lord Mayor Bernd Voehringer and Col. Jason Condrey, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart, delivered works of art by children to the residents of the nursing home Haus Eichholzgärten as part of the campaign “Bringing joy to seniors.”
“With this wonderful action we were able to make a small contribution in connecting generations in these challenging times. I am particularly pleased that numerous children of the Army garrison have also painted pictures for our Sindelfingen senior citizens,” Voehringer said.
“We appreciate the opportunity to take part in this program and hope that the artwork will bring smiles and happiness to the senior citizens of Sindelfingen. This health crisis has shown how the US military community is connected to all communities around us,” Condrey said. “We live next door, and there is no doubt that we will get through this together. Our children have enjoyed being involved in a project that aims to bring joy to others during this difficult time.”
Sylvia Schadt, the nursing home director, as well as Sabrina Kirchner, the head of nursing care, and Susanne Scheck, the chairwoman of the board of the Württemberg Sisterhood of the Red Cross (which runs Haus Eichholzgärten), were pleased about the action and the visit, offering a heartfelt thank you, also on behalf of our residents, for the creative pictures of the little artists and the successful action. The children’s works of art have brought a smile to the faces of our residents.”
In the course of the campaign “#SindelfingenHältZusammen” (Sindelfingen sticks together), the city had called on its young citizens to paint or make works of art for residents of senior care facilities. USAG Stuttgart joined the campaign, and also called on the children of the community to become creative. (Sindelfinger Zeitung, May 18)
Hundreds of Germans still stuck abroad
More than three weeks after the temporary suspension of the return flights of the Federal Foreign Office, hundreds of Germans are still stuck abroad. As the German Press Agency has learned from the Foreign Office, there is still a “high three-digit number” of German citizens in Morocco alone who are willing to return, and who cannot get away due to the capping of air and ferry connections in the corona crisis. “In South Africa, we are assuming a medium three-digit number of Germans willing to leave; in Argentina and Pakistan, a low-to-medium three-digit number in each case,” the ministry said. The embassies are continuing to try to find ways of returning in each individual case, for example with the occasional commercial flight. On March 17, the Federal Foreign Office launched an unprecedented repatriation campaign for German tourists stranded abroad because of the Corona pandemic. (Ntv, May 19)
Eleven percent of all corona cases among the healthcare professions
Employees of hospitals, as well as old people’s and nursing homes in Germany, are affected by an above-average number of infections with the novel coronavirus. As research since mid-April by the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” shows, an average of more than 230 doctors, nurses and other health care professionals become infected with Sars-CoV-2 every day. So far, a total of about 20,000 employees from these fields have contracted an infection with the virus, the newspaper reports, citing information from the Robert Koch Institute. This corresponds to about 11 percent of all those infected. At least 894 people from the health sector had to be treated as inpatients and at least 60 died as a result of the lung disease Covid-19. However, the staff was only tested for the virus sporadically. The RKI, when asked by the newspaper, admitted that the institute is not aware of how extensively the tests are carried out in the facilities. (Süddeutsche Zeitung, May19)
Deutsche Bahn wants to do more to ensure hygiene in response to the coronavirus
In times of the coronavirus pandemic, Deutsche Bahn wants to do even more for hygiene and cleanliness in trains and at stations. According to the report of Funke Media Group, the number of cleaning staff on trains is to be doubled to 500 by July. In August, 600 of these on-the-go cleaners will be in use, it said. A total of 4,300 employees nationwide are responsible for cleaning.
According to the media report, the onboard cleaners are intended primarily to clean and disinfect contact surfaces such as door handles, grips and handrails during the train journey. The same applies to washrooms and toilets. At train stations, ticket and snack machines in particular are cleaned frequently. Additionally, all long-distance trains are cleaned and disinfected before they are used in the factories. (Funke Media Group, May 19)
RKI starts corona study in Kupferzell
The Robert Koch Institute is starting a coronavirus study in the community of in Baden-Württemberg. Among other things, the study will involve smear tests, PCR tests and antibody tests. A total of 2000 people will be examined in Kupferzell. (Robert Koch Institute, May 19)
Lufthansa extends rebooking rules in the Corona crisis
The airlines in the Lufthansa Group have again extended their courtesy rules for rebooking during the Corona crisis. The company announced on Monday that tickets booked up to June 30 can be rebooked free of charge to an even later date than previously, if desired.
Customers can now make up their postponed trip until Dec. 31 2021. Previously, rebooking meant that the new trip had to be taken by April 30, 2021. The new rule applies to tickets with an original travel date of up to April 30 2021, as the group explained. The rebooking is possible once for the same route. In addition to Lufthansa, the group also includes the subsidiaries Swiss, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines and Air Dolomiti. (Focus, May 19)
Maas: Preferably no more worldwide travel warnings after June 15
The Federal Government assumes that, despite the coronavirus pandemic, holidays will be possible in large parts of Europe this summer. Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Sunday in the ARD program “Bericht aus Berlin” that there are positive developments in the fight against the coronavirus in many countries. After June 15, there should “actually” be no more worldwide travel warnings, Maas said.
“Instead, we want to replace them with travel warnings from which people can recognize: ”Where can one go? Where is it justifiable? Where is one welcome?” asked Maas. Everyone must then decide for themselves “whether they want to go there on holiday, given the restrictions that will be imposed everywhere.” The Foreign Minister will hold a video conference on Monday with his counterparts from the popular tourist countries Spain, Italy, Austria, Greece, Croatia, Portugal, Malta, Slovenia, Cyprus and Bulgaria to discuss easing the restrictions. (Stern, May 19)
Half of the Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof stores to close
Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof has been in crisis for some time now. According to media reports, Karstadt is now planning to close a considerable number of its stores. Thousands of employees could lose their jobs.
Of the total of 170 stores, 80 are to be closed. In the remaining 90 stores, ten percent of the jobs are to be cut. Many of the current 28,000 employees are likely to fear for their jobs.
According to the “Wirtschaftswoche,” insiders, expect the loss of 5000 full-time jobs. Internally, there is talk of a reduction of jobs that is “more than just cosmetic”.
The retail chain has been under pressure not only since the corona crisis. By the end of 2019, the chain was already deep in the red and the loss of the entire company is expected to amount to a three-digit million sum.
The group management wanted to create synergy effects and release savings potential by merging the two companies. In the long term, they wanted to convert the stores into shopping centers with a focus on third-party brands. However, the corona crisis put the transformation on hold abruptly. (Stern, May 15)
How long do Covid-19 patients stay immune?
A study on antibodies against the novel coronavirus has started in Stuttgart. The study was announced by the State Health Office (LGA) of Baden-Württemberg. Since the beginning of May, in cooperation with Stuttgart Hospital and Robert Bosch Hospital, the LGA has been investigating patients who are being or have been treated in hospital for Covid 19 disease caused by the new virus. “With the study in the LGA laboratory, we hope to make a contribution to understanding the occurrence and persistence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 – and this in severely ill people,” said Health Minister Manne Lucha.
The samples examined were taken from sick or severely ill people. These samples will be tested for antibodies at regular intervals over a period of one year; 17 samples have already been tested. “The objective of this study, which was started at the LGA at the beginning of May, initially with a small number of samples in cooperation with hospitals, is to provide information on the time of occurrence of antibodies after SARS-CoV-2 infection,” said District President of Stuttgart Wolfgang Reimer. The State Health Office is located in the Stuttgart Regional Council. Initially, around 50 patients will participate in the LGA antibody study, but overall, the researchers hope to increase the number of patients depending on the number of samples from the hospitals, said a spokesperson of the Regional Council.
No acute infection with the novel coronavirus can be detected with antibody tests. This is because the antibodies that the body forms to defend itself against the pathogens are not detectable in the blood of patients until seven days after the onset of symptoms, sometimes even later. With the new antibody study, the researchers now want to find out more about the time when the antibodies appear after an infection and about how long these antibodies actually remain in the blood, said Karlin Stark, head of the State Health Office. “Tests for antibodies are especially important in order to gain more knowledge about the immune response to SARS-CoV-2,” Stark said. So far, it is still unclear how long people are immune to the corona virus after surviving infection.
In order to identify a still acute infection with the corona virus, specimens from the nose or throat are examined for viral DNA using the polymerase chain reaction method.
For the detection of antibodies against it, a so-called Elisa test is carried out on blood samples in the laboratory. If antibodies are present in the blood sample, they react in a reaction vessel to the viral proteins contained in the sample. Such antibody tests are now also offered commercially; sometimes private individuals pay for such an analysis of their blood themselves. The reliability of the tests varies depending on the provider. For example, some results may be false-positive, indicating temporary immunity where there is none. Cross-reactions with other corona viruses can also be possible.
In addition, a representative antibody study with at least 1000 randomly selected people is currently being carried out in Stuttgart. This will provide data on the infestation of the population with the novel corona virus. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, May 18)
Even the mayor has fun at the drive-in cinema
A well-attended drive-in cinema premiered at Flugfeld. Böblingen’s Lord Mayor Dr. Stefan Belz and his partner, Manuel Zimmerer, also had fun.
A set-up team made it possible, and at around 11.30 p.m., the last car remaining on the airfield fairground left. However, hours before, it was already clear the kick-off on Friday evening for the drive-in cinema at the airfield festival area was a success; it will run for the next few weeks.
Shortly after 8 p.m., the first cars started rolling in. Ushers guided them to the first row in front of the screen. Little by little, the back rows of parking spaces filled up with hardly any waiting time in the entrance area. As one might expect due to the lack of alternatives to cultural consumption activities outside the home, this drive-in cinema opening evening sold out and the place seemed to be jam-packed.
“We are fresh meat” on the other hand, a noticeably well-prepared Andreas Zienteck corrects this impression. Since this is the premiere evening for the coming weeks, everyone present was getting a little used to the procedures, explains the operator of the currently closed cinemas in Böblingen. That’s why only 150 tickets were issued for this evening, but for the later screenings, the contingent will be increased to 170 to 180 vehicles.
In view of an almost cloudless sky and the rush of people, he sounds blatantly euphoric. “The location is really cool,” he says, looking at the backdrop that opens up to the left and right of the screen from Daimler plant to Motorworld. “We are so happy,” he confesses in the same breath, even though he formulates his intentions for the drive-in cinema very objectively. Firstly, he cites “minimizing downtime costs” as a reason for launching this project in cooperation with Motorworld. And secondly, it is about keeping cinema in the minds of the people who, with the pandemic restrictions, are getting used to livestream and TV culture from their sofas. (Böblinger News, May 19)
Construction and blocked roads on Calwerstrasse and Parkstrasse in Boeblingen
The pavement at the intersection of Herrenberger Straße and Calwer Straße, between Karl-Benz and Herrenberger Straße, must be renewed.
According to a press release of the city administration, the existing closure at Calwer Straße will be extended for the execution from Thursday, May 21, until probably June 5. In addition, the left-turning lane from Calwer Strasse to Herrenberger Strasse and the area leading to Karl-Benz-Strasse will be closed. It will not be possible to drive out into Herrenberger Straße or to enter or leave Karl-Benz-Straße. Detours via Schlotterbeckstraße are signposted.
In Lyon-Sussmann-Straße, ruts will be removed at the intersection of Parkstraße and Herrenberger Straße. For this purpose, Parkstraße between Paul-Gerhardt-Weg and Herrenberger Straße must be closed May 21-29. Driving straight ahead on Herrenberger Straße is possible without restriction. It is not possible to enter or leave Parkstraße. A detour via Herrenberger Straße – Berliner Straße – Tübinger Straße and vice versa is signposted. The city center or Schlossbergring can be reached via Wolfgang-Brumme-Allee, Herrenberger Straße and via Tübinger Straße/Alba-Brücke. (Boeblinger Kreiszeitung, May 18)
Clear mask gives a view for hearing impaired
It takes getting used to talking to someone without seeing their expressions. It can even be a problem for deaf or hard of hearing people, because even if they talk in sign language, mouth movements still play a role. The mouth-nose masks that have to be worn in many areas of public life because of the spread of the corona virus make communication difficult for the hearing impaired. This is because the masks cover the entire mouth area.
One solution is special masks with a transparent insert above the lips. Master tailor Susanne Landis recently started making such models in her fashion workshop on Löwenstraße in the center of Degerloch. The shop owner says that a customer came up with this idea. “Although she is not deaf herself, she teaches deaf people. And she wanted to have a way for her students to see her facial expressions,” says Susanne Landis. The customer had sent her a picture of such a face mask, and the seamstress started to make it. “I thought it was a great idea right away.”
The fabric masks have a window made of transparent plastic that allows a view of the mouth. But working with the plastic had its pitfalls, Susanne Landis reports. The first one fogged up after a short time while talking. The seamstress revised the design and solved the problem by sewing folds into the fabric. These ensure that the mask now has a small distance to the face so that the air can escape.
Landis estimates that it takes about half an hour to make one of the deaf masks. So far, she has only made them in small quantities. “But I can always make some to order,” says the shopkeeper. Normally, the three employees in the tailor shop in Degerloch sew mainly clothes. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, however, they also make colorful fabric masks for the face, if desired in a color that matches the blouse. (Stuttgarter Zeitung, May 19)
Apartment burglars become more active again
Burglars seem to have ended their lockdown of the past days and weeks. In the night before Tuesday, for example, unknown perpetrators have been roaming around Degerloch. The fact that most residents are at home during corona times no longer seems to deter the perpetrators.
For the first time there have been strange noises in the Wolfschlugener Straße in Degerloch. An unknown person had targeted an apartment building there on Tuesday at around 12.35 am. “There a window was slightly tilted,” says police spokeswoman Meret Sigle. “And that was what a perpetrator was trying to push open.” Fortunately, the noise woke the occupant. She alerted the police – but the perpetrator or perpetrators were quickly over the hills.
The burglars were probably not deterred for long by the temporary police presence in Degerloch. The next incident occurred around 2:30 a.m. – this time in Jahnstraße. Burglars entered the apartment through the kitchen window. Apparently, whatever fell into the hands of the perpetrator or perpetrators was simply stolen inside. “Cigarettes and personal items worth several hundred euros,” says police spokeswoman Sigle. In this case too, the resident woke up. The perpetrators probably had to flee in a hurry – and escaped through the patio door. A police search was unsuccessful here as well. It seems that burglars are slowly becoming bolder again – whereby less courage and more audacity would be the right term.
It is therefore necessary to be on the alert again. Windows that are tilted in the evening and at night can appear to be very tempting. This was also demonstrated on April 21 in an apartment break-in in Hauptstätter Straße in the city center, where an intruder climbed into a ground floor apartment in the backyard of an apartment building. It was one of the few break-ins ever after the introduction of strict corona protection measures in public spaces. (Stuttgarter Zeitung, May 19)