Daily Host Nation Update December 23, 2020
Germany is under strict lockdown restrictions (to include curfews) from now until January 10.
Click here for details on how the ordinance impacts the USAG Stuttgart community.
Almost 1000 deaths reported in one day: RKI figures continue to rise
According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), 24,740 more people tested positive in Germany (previous day: 19,528). This brings the total number of confirmed infections to 1,554,920, with a further 962 (731) people dying from or with the virus. A total of 27,968 deaths have been recorded. The so-called seven-day incidence drops to 195.1 (197.6). The figure indicates how many people per 100,000 population tested positive within seven days. The federal and state governments are aiming for a value of 50 to contain the virus.
Constant uncertainty worst pandemic side effect
German Economics Minister Peter Altmaier advocates a change in strategy in the fight against the virus: “I would like us to learn a lesson from the last few months – namely, to make the measures we take depend more on objective circumstances and less on ad hoc decisions.” He said the federal and state governments have agreed that action must be taken in a city or county if the incidence is above a level of 50 per 100,000 population in seven days. “But what we haven’t decided yet are clear guidelines what happens if the incidence in a whole state or in the whole of Germany is above 50, 100, 150 or above 200,” Altmaier said. Then, he said, everyone can prepare for it, the people and the companies. Because one of the worst side effects of the pandemic, he said, is constant uncertainty. (Ntv, December 23)
German blood plasma study gives quiet hope
Since April, university hospitals throughout Germany have been giving certain Corona patients so-called convalescent plasma. The patients receive blood plasma from people who have survived Covid-19 and formed antibodies. Meanwhile, medical experts are cautiously optimistic about the effectiveness of this method. In the spring, the Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI) approved a study on this, in which clinics from all over the country are participating. At Regensburg University Hospital, about 90 people have been treated with the method since April. Thomas Müller, head of intensive care medicine, sums up: “The administration of convalescent plasma is not a miracle cure.” For certain patients, however, it could be a supportive measure. This is especially true for patients in the early stages of the disease or those with a moderately severe case of Covid-19. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) says passive immunization has already been used to control polio, mumps and measles, and years ago against Sars. (Ntv, December 23)
Some vaccination reactions are quite normal
Many people are wondering: How safe are these new vaccines? Are there side effects? And if so, how bad are they? Swollen arm, headache, fever, all this can happen after vaccination against the coronavirus and are normal and no cause for worry. Three things are important: First, just because a vaccine is developed and approved in a short period of time does not make it any less safe than a vaccine which takes years to develop (read the text about this first-of-its-kind vaccine). Second, current results show that no serious adverse effects have occurred with the new mRNA vaccines so far. And whether there will be rare side effects later – say, of 1 in 3 million – we can’t know until millions of people have already been vaccinated. That is the case with every vaccine and every drug. Thirdly, and only a few people are aware of this, there will nevertheless be unpleasant vaccine reactions in various forms immediately after vaccination. This makes it all the more important to point out that these are not bad side effects of the vaccination, but harmless but sometimes severe reactions of the immune system. (Zeit, December 23)
State of Rheinland-Pfalz begins Corona vaccinations with 9,750 doses
Rheinland-Pfalz will initially receive 9,750 doses of the vaccine from Biontech and Pfizer at the start of Corona vaccinations on December 27. Vaccinations will begin in regions with above-average incidence, according to Health Minister Sabine Bätzing-Lichtenthäler (SPD). The vaccine will be used to inoculate residents and staff at about 70 selected senior facilities starting Sunday, she said. The vaccination will begin in those regions that had an incidence above the state’s average 7-day incidence by the mid-December cutoff date. A total of more than 200 facilities for the elderly are affected. In just under 70 of these, the first step is to vaccinate with mobile vaccination teams. One vaccination team can usually manage a home with 100 residents a day. There are currently 20 such teams nationwide.
Baden-Württemberg vaccinations will begin next week
Mobile vaccination teams have already been to the old people’s and nursing homes to prepare everything. Since elderly people and risk groups will be vaccinated first, all vaccination teams have to be tested for Corona in advance. (Swr, December 23)
Teachers’ association expects hybrid teaching in 2021
The German Teachers’ Association does not expect things to go back to business as usual at schools in Germany after the Christmas vacations. “We, too, do not expect that complete face-to-face teaching will be possible again from January 11,” said association president Heinz-Peter Meidinger. Depending on the Corona infection, he said, there will have to continue to be a phase of alternating instruction with classes cut in half, hybrid instruction or even phases of pure distance instruction. Meidinger called for a nationwide hygiene plan that would clearly define the regional incidence at which health protection measures would have to be taken at schools, ranging from mandatory masks in class to halving classes and teaching at home. (Stern, December 23 )
Hospitals recall recent retirees
The president of the German Hospital Association, Gerald Gaß, is counting on retirees to return to work in light of staff shortages in hospitals and rising patient numbers as a result of the pandemic. “Individual hospitals are calling for employees who have just retired or are on career sabbaticals for other reasons to return, at least temporarily, if possible. I support such appeals,” Gaß said. However, he said, it only makes sense for people who have not been out of the profession for long and still have the experiential knowledge of current hospital operations. (Ntv, December 23)
Police urge citizens to comply with Corona controls
In the interest of health protection, the Ludwigsburg police headquarters, which is responsible for the Böblingen district, is making an urgent appeal to citizens to comply with the Corona regulations.
Since December 12, curfews have been in effect in Baden-Württemberg, and since December 16, the state, like all of Germany, has been in an extensive lockdown. Over the Christmas holidays from Dec. 24 to 26, contact and curfews will be relaxed so that Christmas can be celebrated in the closest circle. It will then be possible to meet with four people from the immediate family beyond one’s own household. However, for gatherings at close friends’ or acquaintances’ homes, the rule of no more than five people from no more than two households will continue to apply.
“Christmas and even the turn of the year will have to be different this year than we are all used to,” says Police Vice President Frank Spitzmueller. “Celebrations in the larger circle of loved ones must not take place in order to not further fuel the still dynamic development and to not let the infection numbers continue to skyrocket.”
Spitzmüller announced that the police will also monitor the restrictions of the Corona Ordinance on Christmas holidays, if there is a very concrete reason to do so. “Nobody wants Corona checks under the Christmas tree – not even the police. But we will follow up on corresponding indications and, if necessary, also intervene if there is actually a need for action.”
A glance at the police enforcement statistics shows that the restrictions are still far from being observed everywhere: since December 16 alone, the task forces of the Ludwigsburg police headquarters have detected almost 500 curfew violations, the obligation to wear masks, or the ban on gatherings in public spaces, 355 of which were reported to the police. (BB heute, December 22)
Johanniter offering rapid test in Stuttgart and Esslingen
Johanniter is now also offering Corona rapid tests before the holidays independently of the smear center at the Cannstatter Wasen. Namely on December 23 from 1 to 4 p.m. and on December 24 from 10 to 1 a.m.. The test location is in Stuttgart-Vaihingen at Kupferstraße 48, i.e. on the premises of the local Johanniter association. The result offers a 95 percent certainty of not being infected with the corona virus. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, December 23)