Local news translated – Dec 29, 2020

Daily Host Nation Update December 29, 2020 

Germany is currently under strict lockdown restrictions (to include curfews) until January 10.
Click here for details on how the Baden-Württemberg ordinance impacts the USAG Stuttgart community.

RKI reports nearly 13,000 new infections and 852 deaths

German health authorities have reported 12,892 new Corona infections within 24 hours. In addition, 852 additional deaths were recorded, as announced by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). However, these figures are only partly comparable with the values of the previous week, because the RKI expected a lower number of tests and also fewer reports from the health offices at the turn of the year. Nevertheless, the number of deaths a week ago was lower at 731 cases. A peak of 952 deaths had been registered on December 16. The number of new infections a week ago was 19,528. The number of new infections reported to health offices within seven days per 100,000 population (seven-day incidence) was 149.2 on Tuesday morning. (Robert Koch Institute, December 29)

Nearly 42,000 people have already been vaccinated in Germany

According to the Robert Koch Institute, 41,962 people in Germany have been vaccinated against the Corona virus. Most of them received the Biontech/Pfizer vaccine because of their profession: employees in nursing and retirement homes, intensive care units, emergency rooms or ambulance services. Vaccinations officially began on Sunday, with some locations starting the day before. (Robert Koch Institute, December 29)

Situation in intensive care units remains “very tense”

Even after the start of vaccination in Germany, hospital utilization remains high. “The situation in intensive care units is still really very tense,” says the president of the German Interdisciplinary Association of Intensive Care Physicians (DIVI), Uwe Janssens, on ZDF. For example, he said, there are less than ten percent of free intensive care beds in the Aachen area or even in Cologne. “In other regions, the situation is similar,” emphasizes the physician. The situation in the northern part of the country is somewhat better, with around 30 percent of beds available. “Overall, we are still struggling with the burden of the high infection figures of recent weeks.” (ZDF, December 29)

Hospitals soon unable to pay salaries

The German Hospital Association is sounding the alarm in view of the corona-related operational restrictions: “If the German government does not significantly increase aid, clinics across the country will no longer be able to pay their employees’ salaries as early as the first quarter of 2021,” the president of the hospital association, Gerald Gaß, told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland. “The money from standard care is missing.” The hospitals had only limited financial resources left. The federal government had opened a new rescue umbrella for hospitals in mid-December. According to the concept of the Ministry of Health, these receive compensation payments in particularly corona-burdened areas if they forgo postponable interventions and thus keep beds free. However, only 25 percent of hospitals would be covered by this, Gaß said. (Ntv, December 29)

Pandemic costs Germany 391 billion euros

The German economy has lost more than 212 billion euros so far as a result of the Corona pandemic. At the end of the crisis, it will be 391 billion euros, as calculated by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) for the newspaper Welt am Sonntag. The DIW based its calculations on the assumption that the number of infections will fall in spring. “If we don’t manage to significantly push down the infection figures by March, it will be a catastrophe,” DIW President Marcel Fratzscher told the newspaper. It will take years for Europe, and especially Germany, which is heavily dependent on exports to the eurozone, to recover. There is the threat of a bankruptcy tsunami, they said and the unemployed will have a hard time finding a new job. (Handelsblatt, December 28)

GroKo wants to ban special rights for vaccinated citizens

The Grand Coalition is considering a legal ban on special rights for citizens with Corona vaccination. The SPD parliamentary group is currently examining legal measures “on how unequal treatment of non-vaccinated and vaccinated people by the private sector could be ruled out,” said Johannes Fechner, the parliamentary group’s spokesman on legal policy, to the “Welt” newspaper. The SPD politician warns that it is unacceptable for airlines to take only those who have been vaccinated or to deny non-vaccinated people access to restaurants. Such preferential treatment of vaccinated persons would “lead to divisions in society.” (Welt, December 29)

Airplanes from South Africa are no longer allowed to land in Austria

Aircraft from South Africa are no longer allowed to land in Austria from Wednesday due to the mutated coronavirus. The measure will apply for the time being until January 10, according to a published amendment to the ordinance. In addition, the landing ban imposed a few days ago on planes from the United Kingdom will be extended until Jan. 10, it said. The halt on flights from South Africa, where the new Corona variant has spread, plugs a loophole for German travelers. As “Spiegel Online” had reported, passengers from South Africa are said to have returned home via Vienna in recent days because of the earlier landing ban in Germany. (Ntv, December 29)

Understanding the new virus variant takes time

Investigations into the new variant of the coronavirus are still ongoing. The World Health Organization (WHO) expects results of corresponding studies from Great Britain and South Africa in the next days or weeks, said WHO expert Maria Van Kerkhove in Geneva. Such studies take time, she said. “Changes are normal, changes were expected and the more the virus is circulating, the more opportunity it has to change,” Van Kerkhove said. One of the important questions is whether vaccinations will be effective against the new variant. A year after the first evidence of the new virus emerged from China, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus appealed for lessons to be learned from the pandemic. To be sure, he said, awareness of such a challenge has increased. But time is still needed to truly prepare for similar further crises, he said. “The virus has made the problems we have clear.” These include the extent of inequality, poverty and exclusion, he said. (Ntv, December 28)

Non-Corona News

No more detours to Sindelfingen city center

Car drivers, delivery services and other road users with vehicles can breathe a sigh of relief: before Christmas, the construction work in the area of the traffic circle at the AOK was completed and the detours were lifted. This means that Gartenstraße in Sindelfingen is once again accessible without interruption after more than two years of construction work. At the end of July 2018, Stadtwerke Sindelfingen had begun extensive construction work for new supply lines, starting at the intersection of Bahnhofstrasse and Gartenstrasse. (BB heute, December 28)

New 20 Euro bill goes into circulation

A new 20-euro bill will be in circulation starting in 2021. The banknotes will feel smoother because the twenty euro banknote will now also be coated with a special varnish as standard to make the banknotes more durable. ” Starting in 2021, only coated 20-euro banknotes will be produced, so uncoated 20-euro banknotes will gradually disappear from the cash cycle,” explained Bundesbank Executive Board member Johannes Beermann in Frankfurt. The five and ten euro banknotes have had the coating since 2013. Lower-value bills in particular change owners frequently and can therefore become soiled or damaged more quickly and thus unusable. Tests have shown that the coating increases the average life of the banknote, Beermann said. (Ntv, December 29)