The Corona Chronicles – Part 2
Updated: Mar 23
Since my post 3 days ago, countries, states, and municipalities around the globe continue to implement regulations as the world seeks to slow the spread of the Coronavirus.
Wednesday, March 18th:
Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany (English = the head of government – the president) gave a prime-time televised speech to the nation. It was an extraordinarily rare event; in that, it was the first time in her 15 years as the chancellor of Germany that she delivered an unscheduled address to the nation. The Chancellor only addresses the nation annually in January for what is called in German = Neujahrsansprache. In English, this is a New Year’s speech similar to the State of the Union address.
The chancellor said 3 simple but very powerful words; “Es ist ernst” = “this is serious” and asked the people of Germany to please take it seriously, making the historical reference (translated to English) “Since German unification—no, since the Second World War—no challenge to our nation has ever demanded such a degree of common and united action.”
Her speech was a clear effort to elevate the seriousness of the situation at hand and to urge the people to act responsibly and support the safety measures being put in place to slow the spread of the virus.
The following is an excerpt from the New York Magazine online, which summed up her speech very well.
Merkel made no specific announcements and did not call for any nationwide curfews or additional closures. Yet what gave her speech its force was her tone, which was direct, honest, and searingly empathic. She laid bare not just to the test we all face but also the solace that leadership can provide. Without accusations, boasts, hedges, obfuscations, dubious claims, or apocalyptic metaphors she did what a leader is supposed to do: explain the gravity of the situation and promise that the government’s help would flow to everyone who needed it.
This is a war without a human enemy, and Merkel laid no blame on anyone. She asked for the sacrifice of personal discipline and for heroic acts of kindness. She acknowledged the paradox in calling for solidarity as a nation and separateness at the same time. She understood how painful it is that just when people desperately want to come together, families and friends have to endure separation.
She gave sincere thanks to front-line medical workers, assured Germans that there is no need to hoard, and paused to offer gratitude to a group of workers who rarely get recognized by heads of state on national TV. She said, “to those who sit at supermarket cash registers or restock shelves are doing one of the hardest jobs there is right now.”
Thursday, March 19th:
Bavaria's Prime Minister Markus Söder delivers a televised speech to discuss measures being taken by the government to augment medical capabilities and to address the economic impact of the virus in the region.
In his speech, he warned of a State-imposed lockdown due to ongoing social interaction and activities (parties) that have continued even after the declaration of a state of emergency and augmented restrictions implemented over Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. (I shared the restrictions related to the State of Emergency in my first post on the virus topic) https://www.viewfrommywindow.net/post/the-corona-chronicles)
Friday, March 20th: (headline & news article translated to English)
Bavaria Orders Exit Restrictions (Lockdown). Up to 25,000 Euros Fine Possible
To curb the coronavirus, Bavaria's Prime Minister Markus Söder has announced far-reaching exit restrictions for the entire Free State. Leaving your own home is only allowed if there are valid reasons. Söder justified the step due to a massive increase in the number of coronavirus cases in Bavaria. From Thursday to Friday this week the number of infections in Bavaria rose 35 percent, and the number of deaths grew from 10 to 15 in this 2-day period.
The restrictions in Bavaria apply for two weeks from Friday midnight, March 21st, 2020, through midnight April 3rd, 2020.
Despite the measures announced on Monday, March 16th and already put in place, there are still a lot of groups and gatherings. "We can no longer accept that," said the Prime Minister. "We are shutting down public life almost completely. According to all experts, this is the only way to slow down the spread of the virus.
As of Saturday, leaving your home is only permitted if there are good reasons.
Going to work (if home office is not possible)
Visits to the doctor and pharmacy
To provide help for others in need of living assistance
Sports and exercise are permittable in the fresh air (but only alone or with the people you live with)
Previously, DIY stores and hair salons were still open, these are now closed along with all other retail businesses, as implemented on March 18th. Additionally, all restaurants will be closed. They may continue to provide take-away, drive-in and delivery. (previously, on March 18th, restaurants were allowed to be open from 6:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., as long as guests sat 5 feet apart)
Not that these measures are a problem for sensible people, said Söder. But for the unreasonable, there is now an exact set of rules.
The police will check and enforce the requirements. In the event of violations, “high fines” have been threatened, said Söder. Bavaria's Minister of the Interior Joachim Herrmann later specified that violations "could be fined up to 25,000 euros under the Infection Protection Act".
So, to any of the “nay-sayers” and conspiracy theorists, I hope by now that we all grasp the reality of this situation. As I wrote previously, possibly like many of you, I took this whole thing a bit too lightly in the beginning.
Over the past weeks and days, I have listened to a vast range of theories with political twists, comparisons to common influenza (the flu), a needed reset of the economy, apocalyptic predictions and so on. That’s okay, everyone is entitled to their opinions and spin on this pandemic, it’s a bit scary. But one thing no one can deny or explain away is that it is a reality we all are facing. It is here and we have to deal with it.
I like to keep things simple and straightforward. So here is my view of the situation today:
1. Officially, there are over 250,000 reported cases of the virus worldwide.
Unfortunately, due to medical system overload or many country's inabilities to test people for the virus, the actual number of cases could be as much as 5 to 10 times more than what is being reported. Couple that with people who might have the virus and confuse it with the common cold or flu. Who really knows how many people have this?.
2. The official virus-related death toll is nearing 12,000 people
3. The fatality rate for the coronavirus is much greater than the common flu. (if you are still hearing people say common flu is more deadly than the coronavirus. They’re wrong!!!)
Let me simplify it for you. It’s not about the number of deaths at this point, it's about the fatality percentage. It is just too early to determine the actual number of infected versus fatality count (reason - point 2, above).
– On average, seasonal flu strains kill about 0.1 percent of people who become infected.
– The Director-General of the World Health Organization estimated that the global case fatality rate for people infected with coronavirus was 3.4 percent.
– 3.4 percent is a shocking estimate,so let's assume it is not correct and the true fatality rate is actually 1%. 1% is 10X more than .01%.
4. In a 24-hour period. Bavaria had an increase of 35% newly detected corona cases
5. The good news for Germany is that the overall is that the death rate is very low in comparison to the number of reported cases. One reason this number is so low is that 80% of the persons confirmed infected with coronavirus are below the age of 60 years old. The speculation on the 80% rate is because the under 60 crowd was more mobile during the onset of the spread of the virus. (vacations, business travel, social gatherings)
6. The coronavirus is more fatal to the elderly population.
7. Social distancing historically works to slow the spread of this type of virus!
When the influenza epidemic of 1918 infected a quarter of the U.S. population, killing hundreds of thousands nationally and millions across the globe, seemingly small choices made the difference between life and death.
As the disease was spreading, Wilmer Krusen, Philadelphia’s health commissioner, allowed a huge parade to take place on September 28; some 200,000 people marched. In the following days and weeks, the bodies piled up in the city’s morgues. By the end of the season, 12,000 residents had died.
In St. Louis, a public-health commissioner named Max Starkloff decided to shut the city down. Ignoring the objections of influential businessmen, he closed the city’s schools, bars, cinemas, and sporting events. Thanks to his bold and unpopular actions, the per capita fatality rate in St. Louis was half that of Philadelphia. (In total, roughly 1,700 people died from influenza in St Louis.)
Here is a juicy bit of information for you:
A sneeze travels at the speed of ~100 miles per hour (160 kph) and a cough travels at ~50 miles per hour (80 kph). When we cough or sneeze, droplets are expelled from our respiratory systems. MIT reports that coughing spreads droplets as far as six meters (~20 feet) and sneezing as much as eight meters (~25 feet). These droplets stay suspended in the air for up to 10 minutes. Furthermore, droplets carrying this virus can stay active on a surface for up to 9 hours. For us germ freaks, that is some unsettling information but does support why we need these measures at this time.
Side note: I often take note of cultural differences between Germany and the USA. The German people, in my opinion, are very clean. So, it is with no offense to my German friends that I write this.
What is this deal with blowing your nose at the table while at a restaurant or cafe? I am not talking about a little puff of air into your tissue, I am talking about blowing your nose in a way that it creates the sound of a giant goose flying over our heads or worse. What is particularly funny for me, is that no one seems to notice or even care. I am often alarmed like someone pinched my butt (which happens quite often). Nonetheless, it is common etiquette in America, that when you need to clear your nose, you step outside or go to the washroom. I know the tissue or handkerchief should catch whatever is propelling from your nose…..But does it?
This is the current View From My Window on the pandemic. Keep in mind, I am just an average Joe, trying to sort through the information as we try to deal with life in these unprecedented times.
It a conversation with my daughter this week, I could feel her fear and concern with the situation as we spoke. In an effort to calm her, I first told her to stay off social media, as this seemed to be fueling her fears. Secondly, I told her if she needed to have more information on what was going on, that the internet is pumping out tons of information in the form of charts, graphs, statistics, and predictions. But, be responsible and smart in considering the source of the information and then I gave her the Papa view.
I said, “it is hard to grasp the magnitude of what is happening today and yes it is scary, it is not the end of the world, the measures being taken to slow the spread of this virus may seem extreme, but maybe………..just maybe we all need to accept that some people (scientists, medical experts, and researchers) with a whole lot more knowledge, experience and information know more than we know about this mess and their valuable information is being used to drive the decisions and measures being implemented by our leaders to protect us. Be smart, be responsible and remember most of all………..I love you”.