Michigan announced a slew of new COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday as a part of a three-week plan to curb virus spread across the state. And it looks very similar to measures in Europe, implemented weeks ago.
The new Michigan restrictions, which take effect on Wednesday and last three weeks, involve limiting gatherings at restaurants, bars, high schools, colleges, in-person working and more.
On Saturday, Michigan reported 7,072 new COVID-19 cases and 65 additional deaths, bringing the state totals up to 251,813 cases and 7,994 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Michigan reported a single-day record 8,516 new cases Friday.
Much of Europe started seeing a surge of COVID-19 cases earlier in October, and many countries re-implemented some lockdown measures to try and stop the growth of cases and deaths.
France and Germany, for instance, both announced partial lockdowns at the end of October, both lasting through the month of November. Like Michigan’s new rules, both of the countries closed bars, restaurants and other entertainment venues, and kept schools open. (Although Michigan is moving college and high schools to remote learning).
Early results show positive signs
It’s been more than two weeks since partial lockdown measures were put in place in France and Germany, and in both countries, the growth of cases appears to be flattening.
In Germany, the rise of new infections has since slowed, but on Friday the country still registered a record of 23,542 newly confirmed cases. On Monday, 10,824 new cases were reported by the country’s disease control center, but figures are usually lower at the beginning of the week due to less testing and delayed reporting.
Germany’s health minister told his compatriots to brace for a long winter, regardless of whether a partial shutdown succeeds in bringing down the caseload.
“This doesn’t mean that things can really get going again everywhere from December or January, and that we can have wedding parties or Christmas celebrations as if nothing were happening — that won’t work,” Jens Spahn told RBB Inforadio.
Leaders aren’t exactly celebrating this. German Chancellor Angela Merkel will assess the effects of a nearly two-week-long partial lockdown with state governors in a video conference Monday.
On Thursday, the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s national disease control center, said 21,866 new cases were recorded in the past 24 hours in the nation of 83 million. That’s short of a record of 23,399 set on Saturday, but nearly 2,000 more than a week earlier.
The institute’s head, Lothar Wieler, said he is “cautiously optimistic” because “the curve is rising somewhat less steeply, it is flattening.” But he said “we don’t yet know whether this is a stable development” and it’s too early to assess what effect the new restrictions are having.
At the same, he pointed to an increasingly strained situation in hospitals as infections once again spread to older and more vulnerable people. As of Wednesday, there were at least 3,127 COVID-19 patients in intensive care in Germany.
In other European countries, lockdown measures appear to have flattened growth in Spain, Italy and Portugal, though countries are still seeing extremely high cases, compared to earlier in 2020.
Not an exact comparison
There are some obvious differences between Michigan and Germany, France. Both of those countries are supported by a nationalized plan, unlike Michigan, which operates as a state with no federal mandates on pandemic restrictions.
Additionally, Germany and France have put in measures to offset income loss for individuals and businesses impacted by the partial lockdowns.
In the U.S., negotiations for another stimulus package stalled prior to the election and there is currently no sign of progress from either side. The U.S. passed its first relief package back in April, but efforts to expand it have been met with resistance, especially from Senate Republicans.
2nd vaccine shows success
Moderna said Monday its COVID-19 vaccine is proving to be highly effective in a major trial, a second dash of hope in the global race for a shot to tame a resurgent virus that is now killing more than 8,000 people a day worldwide.
The company said its vaccine appears to be 94.5% effective, according to preliminary data from Moderna’s ongoing study. A week ago, competitor Pfizer Inc. announced its own COVID-19 vaccine appeared similarly effective — news that puts both companies on track to seek permission within weeks for emergency use in the U.S.
A vaccine can’t come fast enough, as virus cases topped 11 million in the U.S. over the weekend — 1 million of them recorded in just the past week. The pandemic has killed more than 1.3 million people worldwide, more than 245,000 of them in the U.S.