Local news translated – Oct 14, 2020

USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs – Local news translated – Oct 14, 2020

More than 5000 new corona infections in Germany

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the health authorities in Germany have reported more than 5000 new corona infections within a 24-hour period for the first time since April. According to the RKI, the total number was 5,132, which was more than 1,000 cases more than the day before. Mid-April was the last time figures were as high as they are today. Authorities point out, however, it’s inaccurate to compare the figures from several months ago, as considerably more tests are now being conducted. Thus more infections are being detected. (Tagesschau, October 14)

Health expert warns of the seriousness of the current situation

The SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach assesses the recent increase in cases on ZDF as serious. “If the number of new infections remains above 5,000 for two weeks, the virus will impact all age groups. In this respect, 5,000 new infections mean that about one percent of those infected could possibly die, i.e. 50 people a day. If the number of new infections rose to over 10,000, an average of 100 people would probably die. “But since we would not see this until a month later, it is easy to underestimate the seriousness of the situation at first,” says Lauterbach. In addition, the deaths would be accompanied by a much higher number of chronic Covid complications in the lungs, kidneys and brain. “Therefore, 10,000 cases per day would be a medium catastrophe for the German population, both medically and economically, for a longer period of time,” said Lauterbach. (ZDF, October 14) 

All age groups are at risk 

Dr. Christian Drosten, viral disease specialist, has spoken out clearly against the idea of concentrating only on the protection of the elderly and other risk groups in the Corona pandemic, while the rest of society returns to everyday life. For one thing, it would not be possible to completely isolate the elderly, the Charité scientist said on Tuesday. Secondly, there are also risk patients in the younger age groups. If the virus is allowed to pass through younger people, the health care system will be overburdened. (Zdf, October 14)

Teachers’ association criticizes current ventilation measures

The German Teachers’ Association has sharply criticized the ventilation concept for corona prevention in schools. “It is pathetic that the KMK and most school ministries have no other ideas on the subject of aerosol pollution in crowded classrooms other than to recommend regular ventilation,” said association president Heinz-Peter Meidinger to the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.”

Meidinger added, “We all know that in a large number of classrooms the windows cannot even be opened or can only be opened in a small way, and that in many cases cross-ventilation does not work. Above all, such ventilation recommendations are problematic in winter when temperatures are below zero, accompanied by strong winds and rain.” Meidinger complained that the ministries are not even in agreement on how often ventilation is required and that recommendations for twenty minutes every hour meant students will be sitting in the classroom wearing gloves and caps. “If the majority of the states continue to be inactive and talk themselves into thinking the situation is controllable with ventilation, we will be heading for a cold winter with high sickness rates. (Osnabruecker Zeitung, October 14)

Germany struggles to implement uniform travel rules

Despite warnings from business and politics about the negative consequences of the different travel rules in Germany, the country hardly came closer on Tuesday. Baden-Württemberg’s Minister President Winfried Kretschmann admitted that he originally intended to overturn the controversial ban on accommodation for business people from high-risk regions. However, he had stopped this in view of the meeting of the heads of government with the Chancellor planned for today. “Otherwise we may have to modify the regulation again,” he said. Rhineland-Palatinate already put the ban on accommodation on hold on Tuesday. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Oct 14)

German military provides extra personnel for contact tracing

In Baden-Württemberg, around 100 uniformed soldiers are currently deployed to help against the virus, mostly within the medical sector. Close to 1,400 are deployed nationwide. Eleven relief operations are currently being carried out, says Lieutenant Colonel Markus Kirchenbauer of the State Command in Stuttgart. Specifically, there soldiers working at Corona Test Centers in Balingen, Hechingen, Breisgau, Freiburg, Heilbronn, and at the Enzkreis, and sixty soldiers are working at the Stuttgart, Esslingen and Ortenaukreis Health Offices. The soldiers are mainly needed for contact tracing. Local authorities do not have the personnel or time needed to process many of the contact data lists, as each trace call can take up to an hour to make. In order to guarantee the immediate follow-up which is necessary to be effective, the extra help provided by the military personnel is critical. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Oct 14) 

Stuttgart Christmas market at risk with high new infections

Lord Mayor Fritz Kuhn declared on Wednesday, October 14, 2020: “There will be no Christmas market as we know and love it this year. If there is one, it will be very different from the one we are normally able to hold. With the current dramatic increase in new corona infections, even a smaller version of the Christmas market is at risk. We will wait until the beginning of November to see if the infections have decrease enough to make a market possible. The next two or three weeks will be critical for that decision.” Kuhn’s announcement was preceded by a meeting between the Lord Mayor and the heads of the Health Department and the Office for Public Order, as well as Mayor Thomas Fuhrmann and the event management company in Stuttgart. Officials determined that early November is the lastest a decision can be made and leave enough time to prepare and organize a Christmas market.  (Press release city of Stuttgart, Oct 14)