Germany Locks Down to Protect Healthcare System

Beginning Dec. 16, all of Germany will be subject to stricter coronavirus restrictions to reduce infections following a meeting with the chancellor and the 16 state governors. Schools will close and restaurants will be confined to take-out service.

2 minute read

December 15, 2020, 12:00 PM PST

By Irvin Dawid

Düsseldorf Stadtbahn

A scene from the Düsseldorf Stadtbahn in August. | Peeradontax / Shutterstock

Much like the new coronavirus restrictions in California that took effect on December 7, Germany is taking strong action to reduce viral spread and spare hospitals from being overwhelmed.

"The health system is under heavy strain and our aim has always been to avoid an overloading of the health care system," Chancellor Angela Merkel told Deutsche Welle (DW) on December 13.

Germany's intensive care unit capacity is also at a critical level, and doctors have warned that only 5% to 10% of intensive care beds are available in some parts of the country.

U.S. comparison

A major difference between restrictions in Germany compared to California is that Chancellor Angela Merkel is taking action much earlier than any American governor has done in this phase of the pandemic.

Berlin-based Frank Jordans reports for the AP (source article) on the rise in the daily new cases from two weeks ago to a seven-day rolling average of 26 cases per 100,000 people on December 13 (per The New York Times global tracker). According to the Harvard Global Health Institute's Key Metrics for COVID Suppression, when case incidence exceeds 25 per 100k, stay-at-home orders are recommended.

By contrast, the United States is averaging 63.3 cases per 100k as of December 13 according to the Times U.S. tracker 

Like three of the five regions of California subject to the new Regional Stay Home Order (posted here), the German restrictions will shut down outdoor dining, the subject of current litigation in Los Angeles County, and personal care services, including salons and barbershops. 

California, with the nation's highest infection growth rate of 1.26 on December 13, according to Covid Act Now, is averaging 79 cases per 100k; Los Angeles County at 108 per 100k.

Rhode Island lesson

Rhode Island continues to lead the nation with 107 cases per 100k. In a recent post, Providence-based GoLocalProv contributor, Nick Landekic, put the blame for the state's outbreak on "the mismanagement of the crisis by our political leaders."

Close downs work. They are the only thing that works in the pandemic, and especially when the situation has been allowed to get as totally out of control as it has in Rhode Island.

Government aid promised

Unlike the United States, where Congress has been unable to agree on funding a follow-up to the CARES Act, "Germany's finance minister...promised financial support for businesses and individuals affected by the stricter measures," according to DW. The new restrictions will be in effect until at least January 10.

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