Local news translated – Nov 2, 2020

USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs – Local news translated – Nov 2, 2020

Hospitals expect record number of intensive care patients

The head of the German Hospital Association, Gerald Gaß, expects a new peak in intensive care patients in Germany during the corona pandemic. “In two to three weeks, we will exceed the peak number of intensive care patients from April – and we can no longer prevent this. Anyone who is admitted to hospital in three weeks is already infected today,” he told the “Bild” newspaper. He also announced that he would also be deploying nursing staff from non-intensive medical areas in the intensive care units. “This is of course not optimal, but it can be justified in such an exceptional situation.” (Ntv, November 2)

Physicians warn of serious intensive care shortages

The President of the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive and Emergency Medicine (DIVI), Uwe Janssens, had declared in the “Bild am Sonntag” at the weekend: “It is quite clear that there is not much room for maneuver in some federal states. Berlin has only 14 percent free intensive care beds, Bremen 17 percent.” In the spring, the situation was much less dramatic than what we are facing now.

Andreas Westerfellhaus, the Federal Government’s representative for nursing care, demanded that scheduled operations be postponed. “Many intensive care nurses are already working at the limit, and rightly warn of a worsening,” he told the “Bild” newspaper. Only “a bundle of measures will prevent a catastrophe – for example, postponing non-emergency operations depending on the local situation.”

Meanwhile, SPD deputy caucus leader Bärbel Bas blamed Health Minister Jens Spahn for failing to provide adequate protection for health workers and risk groups. “Unfortunately, the announced test strategy comes too late,” she told “Die Welt” (Monday). With rising infection rates, healthcare workers are now presumably also increasingly absent from their jobs. (Focus, November 2)

From Covid-19 intensive care doctor to patient

Intensive case unit physician went from caring for severe Covid cases at the Darmstadt Clinic to suddenly being the patient. Just a few weeks prior, Dr. Çelik spoke to FOCUS Online about his work as head of the corona isolation department at Darmstadt Hospital. At the time, he warned of a second wave in view of the high daily number of new infections. He said: “I see the coming weeks very intensively in the near future.” Then, the 34-year-old physician suddenly contracted corona himself. First he had a severe headache. Knowing that he was at high risk for infection due to his occupation, he paid attention to possible symptoms. When he then got a fever, he had himself tested. The result was positive. During the course of his illness, many things were very untypical, Çelik told the “FAZ.” Being young, and with not pre-existing conditions, he was not high risk for complications, but as he was well aware even before his own illness, “The individual does not always fit into the statistics. Çelik is currently in quarantine and is hoping to take care of his patients again soon. (Focus, November 2)

Cycling good for fighting infections

Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) is an advocate for more people cycling, especially during the corona crisis.  His five top reasons why cycling can protect against the coronavirus.

  • Cyclists more easily maintain the proper social distance of one and a half meters.
  • The risk of “inhaling” the pathogen on the bicycle is practically zero.
  • Riding a bicycle strengthens the immune system and since fitness studios have closed for the time being, cycling is a good alternative to keep the body healthy and clear the mind.
  • Cycling is good for the lung muscles, which are particularly susceptible to the corona virus. When cycling, the respiratory and circulatory systems get a good supply of oxygenated blood.
  • Cycling or any exercise that gets the cardiovascular system going helps people with diseases such as hypertension. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), these underlying diseases carry a high risk of severe Covid-19 progression, regardless of the patient’s age.

(Stuttgarter Nachrichten, November 2)

World Health Organization head in quarantine

The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, goes into domestic isolation after contact with an infected person. “I was identified as a contact person of someone who tested positive for Covid-19. I am healthy and without symptoms, but will quarantine myself in the coming days in accordance with WHO protocols and work from home,” the WHO chief writes on Twitter. (Ntv, November 2)

Non-Corona News

“Talk To Me” website teaches discourse with conspiracy theorists

With corona pandemic, came many conspiracy theorists. Most people probably know at least one friend or relatives who believe in these conspiracy theories. However, many do not know how to properly discuss the topic with these people.

Victoria Schrank, a 34-year-old designer originally from Russia, has been living in Berlin since 2009. In March she saw that a close friend of hers was writing more and more often about conspiracies on the internet. When she also told Schrank personally about the group QAnon, the 34-year-old was surprised: “I didn’t know what to reply and then simply said nothing. In retrospect, I thought that was pretty stupid. Even after the conversation she talked to other people who had similar views. This gave the UX designer an idea called “Talk To Me”. A website that provides visitors with playful tips on how best to behave in such conversations and how, ideally, conspiracy theorists can be diverted from their misbelief.

“Talk To Me” is a free website where visitors are directly thrown into a kind of role-playing game. They have to have a conversation with a familiar person who believes in conspiracies and always get two possible answers to choose from. “This choice determines how the story unfolds. After each situation, the players receive an explanation of how their answer will be received by the opponent, what effect it may have on the rest of the conversation, and tips on how best to behave,” explains Schrank.

Such tips include asking about problems, asking whether one wants to discuss at all, or whether the interlocutor is also interested in one’s own opinion. It is important to always remain respectful. A goal of the discussion is it to see doubts with the Gegenüber. He should come to the idea that there might be errors of thought in his argumentation. However, it is not realistic to cause a complete change of opinion during the first discussion. Often it can also help to directly address what you want to achieve with the conversation. For example, parents who are in a risk group but are opponents of masks should be persuaded to wear the mask only at first, instead of changing their views completely. If Schrank has her way, the “Talk To Me” website is to go online before Christmas with a choice of German and English languages. To make this possible, she launched a crowdfunding campaign on October 21.

So far, more than 6,000 euros of the targeted 10,800 euros have already been collected (as of October 30, 2020). In August and September she was already supported by a Research and Development Fellowship of MediaLab Bayern, where she developed a prototype. “I hope that we can launch the website as soon as possible to collect as much feedback as possible and then further develop the website,” explains Schrank. (Stuttgarteer Nachrichten, November 2)

Stuttgart German-American Center offers Digital Election Night

The German-American Center/James F. Byrnes Institute (DAZ) Stuttgart invites Americans and Germans alike to join them for an evening of curated, free, and non-partisan coverage of the U.S. presidential election. The event will mostly be in English, with parts in German, at electionnight.de. They will have live commentary from Washington, D.C. and Stuttgart’s sister city St. Louis, Missouri, and will hear from journalists and experts on a variety of topics. Representatives from Democrats Abroad and Republicans Overseas will get together with Dr. Markus B. Siewert (Bavarian School of Public Policy) to discuss the most important campaign issues; the panel will be moderated by Dr. Martin Kilgus (ifa Akademie/Institute for Foreign Relations). Members of Debating Society Germany e.V. will deliver a political student debate. There will also be music and more. DAZ director Christiane Pyka will be the host for the evening.

The event begins at 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 3, at electionnight.de. U.S. Election Night 2020 is an event organized by the German-American Center (DAZ) Stuttgart and State Agency for Civic Education Baden-Württemberg in cooperation with Stuttgart Media University, Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Baden-Württemberg, Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, Heinrich Böll Foundation BW, Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Hospitalhof, and the State Ministry of Baden-Württemberg. (DAZ, November 2)