Coronavirus

The most critical corona hotspots in Germany want to reopen

Jens Schlueter, AFP, Getty Images

The opening plan of the federal government and the state chiefs brings hope for around 349 districts out of a total of 412: because they all have an incidence value of less than 100 cases per 100,000 inhabitants – the number decides whether the districts are allowed to reopen gradually or not.

But for some counties, a possible opening is still a long way off. For weeks and even months you have topped the list of districts that have the highest incidence values ​​in a nationwide comparison. On the overview of the Robert Koch Institute, they all have well over 200 cases per 100,000 inhabitants within a week. At the forefront are the district of Hof with an incidence of 315 (as of March 5), the district of Wunsiedel in the Fichtelgebirge with an incidence of 342 (as of March 5) and the district of Hildburghausen with an incidence of 243 cases (as of March 5) . March).

A cry for help can now be heard from precisely these districts. The district administrators from Hof ​​and Wunsiedel already wrote a fire letter at the end of February after the incidence values ​​had risen sharply again and they saw no prospect of an opening soon. The district administrator of the Hildburghausen district, Thomas Müller (CDU), wrote a fire letter this Wednesday to the Thuringian Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow (Die Linke), which is available to NewsABC.net.

“We urgently need more vaccine in hotspots like Hildburghausen”

The letter states that it is incomprehensible that urban districts and districts, whose incidence values ​​have been well below 100 for weeks, are treated in the same way as urban districts and districts with a significantly higher incidence in the vaccination strategy.

“We urgently need more vaccine in hotspots like Hildburghausen,” said Müller in an interview with NewsABC.net. Otherwise it would hardly be possible to come down from the high incidence figures and even be able to participate in the opening of the federal government.

In fact, the RKI had already introduced its own color for the Hildburghausen district last November: pink. The reason: With 630 infections per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days, the district had the largest infection rate at that time. The trigger for the increasing number of corona cases is said to have been wedding and birthday parties. There were also protests by residents against the Corona rules, sometimes without observing the minimum distance.

“The high numbers from last year are still lagging behind,” says Müller. Until two weeks ago the value was still over 400. The numbers have been up for far too long, so it now takes time to weaken the numbers again. “The more infectious people, the more people become infected,” explains Müller.

In the letter to Bodo Ramelow (Die Linke), Müller also warns that a higher incidence also brings about a higher probability of mutations. The district administrator from Hildburghausen therefore demands that the Free State of Thuringia provide sufficient vaccine, even if the Thuringian district with almost 65,000 inhabitants is not in the German border regions, for which more vaccine doses are already planned.

“Vaccination is the real game changer for our counties in the border area”

These border regions, however, include the administrative districts of Wunsiedel, Hof and Tirschenreuth. All of them are in close proximity to the border to the Czech Republic. There the Prime Minister warned only a few days ago of a “second Bergamo” because the number of deaths has already exceeded the threshold of 20,000.

In a fire letter entitled “Security and Perspectives for Eastern Bavaria”, six border district administrators, including Tirschenreuth, Wunsiedel and Hof, came together at the end of February. They warned that a large number of their corona cases were also related to commuters from the Czech Republic. Therefore, they continued to demand comprehensive border controls and that every Czech cross-border commuter should submit a corona test that was not older than 48 hours. They also called for more vaccine doses to quickly reduce the infection rate.

“Vaccination is the real game changer for our districts in the border area,” says Oliver Bär (CSU), district administrator in Hof. So you could create a protective belt to the Czech border.

In fact, the positive rate for corona tests in Bavarian test centers, which also test many Czech commuters near the border, is only five to seven percent or even less on average, reports Bayerischer Rundfunk. It therefore does not provide any indication that Czech commuters have a particularly high influence on the infection rate in the Bavarian border region. Instead, the Bavarian Ministry of Health pointed out that the development of the number of infections depends primarily on compliance with local measures.

Nevertheless, the demand for more vaccination doses in the border regions has already worked: Tirschenreuth has now received 1000 more vaccine doses, the district of Hof 2000 and Wunsiedel 1000 more vaccine doses. Everyone is hoping for more doses of the vaccine. Nevertheless, there is criticism of the opening plan from the federal and state governments because the strategy is only linked to the respective incidence value in the region.

The opening plan gives no hope to regions with high incidence values

The current strategy can give little hope to the Bavarian border regions, which are currently struggling with high incidences, says Peter Berek (CSU), District Administrator of Wunsiedel.

“The mood in our district is tense and we are very troubled,” said Berek in an interview with NewsABC.net. People are angry and worried, after all, it is about their livelihoods, their jobs and the fact that they cannot see each other. He received messages almost every day and made phone calls to people from his district. “I invest a lot of energy in personal exchange to take away people’s fears, resignation and anger,” he says. As a district administrator, he thinks about how the district could soon reopen despite the monstrance of incidence.

With a “test pass”, places with high incidence values ​​could open faster

In addition to more vaccination doses and testing, Berek therefore suggests going one step further: “Our idea is to combine testing with performance,” he says. He is sure that the negative test for activities that are currently not possible is a kind of ticket. “The test center would then be a kind of ticket shop, whose visit would enable you to use the trade or the catering trade again, for example,” says Berek. Then the pandemic could be controlled, even in regions with higher incidence.

It is an idea that the Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) had already proposed at his press conference on Wednesday: He spoke of a test pass that would allow you to be free and then enjoy 24 hours of freedom.

However, in Hildburghausen, hundreds of kilometers away, more testing or even free testing is not an option. “We already don’t know how we are going to keep up with the testing,” says Müller. It is a mystery to him how the district should also carry out the free quick tests for the residents. “When 50,000 people suddenly stand in front of our municipal smear test on Monday to be tested, our system will collapse,” said Müller. Instead, self-tests are needed in the drugstore that people can carry out alone at home.

However, without the option of opening up in counties with high incidence values, District Administrator Berek sees another danger rolling in: “If only some regions are allowed to open, I fear a kind of corona tourism from the high-incidence areas to the areas with a lower incidence,” he says. The people would then have the corona virus in their luggage and would spread it elsewhere. “That would not only weaken the economy in the high-incidence areas, it could possibly also lead to rising incidences elsewhere,” said Berek.

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