By Ciara Linnane, MarketWatch
U.S. governors pushing to reopen their states after COVID-19-driven lockdowns may want to look to Germany on Tuesday, where an early attempt to lift restrictions on movement has led to an increase in the coronavirus infection rate.
The head of Germany’s Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases, Lothar Wieler, said the virus reproduction rate had climbed back to 1.0, meaning that each infected person is infecting at least one other, on average. The reproduction rate had fallen to 0.7 at the peak of lockdowns and stay-at-home orders.
Germany is one of the countries attempting to gradually reopen after its widespread testing and contact tracing helped it achieve one of the lowest fatality rates from the virus in the world, and a death tally that is way below other European countries.
“Let’s, insofar as is possible, stay at home, let’s stick to the reduced contact,” Wieler told reporters at a news conference, Reuters reported.
The news comes as President Donald Trump urges states to “seriously consider” reopening public schools before the end of the academic year, the Associated Press reported, even though many have already determined it would be unsafe to do so. Trump made the comments on a Monday call with governors to discuss the steps needed to reopen economies. None of the governors on the call responded to the suggestion, according to the AP.
Some states are announcing plans to reopen with Georgia saying it will allow movie theaters to reopen as of Monday, and restaurants to have limited dine-in service, after hair salons, gyms, bowling alleys and tattoo parlors were allowed to reopen on Friday.
Oklahoma also allowed hair and nail salons, pet groomers and spas to reopen as of Friday. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the stay-at-home executive order that expires this week “has done its job.” Some other states are loosening up shutdown orders to allow certain business to reopen this week.
Latest case tallies
There are now 3.09 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide and at least 213,824 people have died, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University. At least 915,988 people have recovered.
The U.S. has the highest case toll at more than 1 million and the highest death toll at 57,266. New York remains the U.S. epicenter with almost 300,000 confirmed cases and almost 25,000 deaths, the Johns Hopkins data show.
Spain has the highest number of cases in Europe at 232,128 and 23,822 deaths. Italy has 201,505 cases and 27,359 deaths, the highest number of fatalities in Europe.
France has 166,036 cases and 23,327 deaths, while Germany has 159,137 cases and just 6,174 deaths.
The U.K. has 158,354 cases and 21,745 deaths. Turkey has 114,653 cases and 2,992 deaths, while Russia has moved past Iran in case number. Russia has 93,558 cases and 867 deaths, while Iran has 92,584 cases and 5,877 deaths. China, where the disease was first reported late last year, has 83,938 cases and 4,637 deaths.
Other countries that appear to have their outbreak under control and are tentatively reopening include New Zealand and Australia. New Zealand ended its strictest lockdown phase at midnight and is now operating at Level 3, allowing some businesses to reopen. Prime Minister Jacinta Adern said residents can now travel to work, spend more time outdoors and order takeaway food, as the Guardian reported.