German Correspondent on the Corona Virus

April 23, 2020

In Blog Letters To Finkelstein News

I’m fascinated how many people here seem to still be uncomfortable with the idea of wearing facial masks to lower the probability of infections. But the government is making it mandatory in more and more regions, so hopefully that will fix this.

There some sad irony in the fact that many people here seem to crave such governmental directives, so that they can do what is clearly a  sensible thing, without appearing “weird”.

As long as we don’t have vaccinations, or treatment to make the illness less dangerous, it seems clear to me that no country can in any meaningful sense “go back to normal”. But at the same time it is unavoidable that trade-offs have to be made between fewer infections and various other concerns.

I regularly look at the numbers from Johns Hopkins, at

It’s possible to select a view of “Daily cases”, per country, there. The numbers for new seem suspiciously low for Germany, over the last ten days. I worry that the low numbers might be in part an artifact of the Easter holidays.

Either way, I guess those numbers are what the policy decisions are based on.

Independently, it is my understanding that a lot of people here went to see relatives over the Easter weekend. So it seems likely that a wave of new infections will show up in the data over the next days.

One prediction that makes a lot of sense to me is that we’re going to see waves of infection followed by waves of more restrictive directions from governments, over the course of the next year or so.

I do worry what will happen when this infection speeds up in parts of the world with less medical infrastructure. Including, but not limited to, Gaza. A number of African countries look like they might be in phases comparable to European countries a month or two ago. Enough cases that I can’t imagine how they might be contained – and seemingly ramping up, slowly.

By contrast, whatever we have to deal with in Germany seems tame. And I can’t bring myself to be particularly agitated over “the economy” suffering.

There’s renewed debate about universal basic income. So I’m hoping that more progressive thinking might emerge from this era.