Teacher’s Corner: Sacrificing our kids to Covid

Remember when last year large parts of Europe, who thanks to quick and strict measures got relatively well through the first Covid wave shook their heads in horror at Trump’s science denial and his complete refusal to act? Well, now it’s time for the rest of you to have some pity on us. Germany has been on varying stages of pseudo-lockdown since October. With the second wave peaking around Christmas and over 1.000 deaths a day ion January, it happened exactly what scientists said would happen: the second wave hit hard, in all areas, and since our politicians refused to act quickly, it got a lot worse than it had to be. From that point on we’ve been in an unbearable state: Our private life is severely restricted. At some part it was illegal for Mr and me to enter my parents’ house at the same time when bringing them groceries. But there are zero restrictions on workplaces, and schools reopened three weeks before the Easter holidays, but at least only with half size classes and rotation. And we keep going…

One of the ways we’re measuring the spread of Covid is the 7 days incidence value. I’m not sure if that is used everywhere, so let me quickly explain: It tells you how many people on average got Covid during the last 7 days out of 100.000 and is seen as a key value, together with the R-value (how many people does one person infect). Last year, an incidence above 50 meant that an area was a high risk area. With the new mutants, especially the highly contagious British variant B117, some time in February our politicians decided that we needed to get below 35, which was a goal supported by scientists. then they noticed that we won’t reach 35 until we implement some really strict measures, especially in offices and factories, and they abandoned the goal. and much like in the USA, each Ministerpräsident*in decided they knew better, usually by implementing less measures than they actually agreed on.

Schools and daycare have always been central in these discussions. under the guise of “child welfare” they are kept open to the last possible minute, when actually the issue is that we provide “free” childcare so mum and dad can go working and catch Covid in an open plan office. Don’t get me wrong, this school year basically didn’t happen in terms of learning. I’m fully aware of the many issues that come with closing down schools, in terms of learning, in terms of providing structure, in terms of child welfare. I’m also fully aware of the alternatives and they are worse. they are literally killing our children and their parents.

At the start of the pandemic we saw huge infection rates and deaths among the elderly, and people, mostly politicians, claimed that children didn’t get Covid, and if they did, they weren’t infectious. Once they could no longer deny that children do get Covid, the next lies were that it’s harmless for children (7% get Long Covid!) and that they also didn’t catch it in school, but at home. I don’t know how this must have felt for the two of my colleagues whose children did catch it at school and one of whom infected his mum who has been in  hospital or a couple of months now. It makes me fucking angry. All those bullshit lies are crumbling down, of course, so the new idea is to simply ignore children and families.

The new plan of the federal government is that the “all is well” incidence is 100, which is already three times the number we agreed on at the start of the year. But for schools to close down completely, the number must be 200. If you now say “that’s horrible, that’ll kill people”, I’m afraid I haven’t even hit you with the worst of it. As said before, that number is calculated on 100.000 inhabitants, but 100.000 regardless of how many people are already vaccinated. Even those who only received one shot are largely removed from the battle field as long as they keep up with the rest of the measures. This means that currently the number in Germany is actually per 80.000 unvaccinated people. Therefore an incidence of 100 is actually more like 120. With vaccination finally progressing, this will shift more and more. Now, who’s the largest group that currently has a zero percent vaccination rate and has to meet many people every day? Yep, children and adolescents, and it’s already showing:

©Giliell, all rights reserved

This shows the incidence of kids between 5 and 14, the deeper the blue, the higher the incidence value. In my county, that incidence is 421, while the overall incidence is “just” 183 and doesn’t trigger any measures now and will not trigger any measures should the federal “emergency break*” be enacted. By the end of summer, an incidence just below hundred over all age groups could mean 600-800 among school kids. Of course they carry the virus home and many parents will also be in the last group to be vaccinated as they tend to be younger and healthier. With the wild type, isolation within the home was often good enough to protect the other family members. With B117, if one person gets it, everybody in the family gets it, thus putting kids and parents at risk. Some of those parents will die, just like it happened in New York, where thousands of kids lost a parent. And all of this is done in the name of “child welfare”.

Oh, and our government has asked us all to put a candle in the window to honour the Covid deaths. maybe they shouldn’t ask us to set things on fire right now?


  1. Jazzlet says

    Jesus wept, that is as bad as the shit Johnson’s been laying down. I was twenty when my mum died and that was pretty bad, all those poor kids are going to have it so much worse, especially if they infected their parent.

    Locally the combintion of sun, relaxation of restrictions, and more people having been vaccinated seems to have led a lot of people to decide they don’t need to take any precautions anymore. Shops do still seem to be enforcing masking, but I can see that dropping off soon the way things are going.

  2. Ice Swimmer says

    The reopening craze seems to hit also here. There’s both pressure for various parts of the business community as well as the thing that designing restrictions that aren’t judged as unconstitutional is hard*. Having any kind of hysteresis in lifting the restrictions (that is lifting the restrictions only after the incidence is significantly lower than it was at the time they were introduced) seems to be hard to do constitutionally.

    In my region, schools (comprehensive schools, high schools and vocational schools, AFAIK, universities are still mostly online teaching**) have reopened and bars can be open until 18 and restaurants until 19. Dancing and karaoke is banned. Also kids’ outdoor team sports and hobbies are allowed again. Granted, the 7-day incidence is about 60 in the whole region, but it didn’t get there from 180 a month ago without the restrictions.

    * = That’s mostly a good thing, however it seems that the constitution and laws are written with the assumption that a national emergency is always a war.
    ** = Apart from lab work in tech and science. Also, I’ve seen the pottery students of the Arts dept of Aalto University hard at work in their workshop, that has big windows on street level

  3. Ice Swimmer says

    Marcus Ranum @ 3

    Many Northern European (apart from Sweden, which screwed its response royally* in the beginning and has been suffering from the consequences ever since**) countries were able to contain the epidemic for a long time quite well with fairly moderate restrictions.

    However the mutated variants caught for example Estonia by a big surprise (in the counties around the capital Tallinn, the 7 day incidence was above 1000/100 000) and Finland by a smaller one (we had 500/100 000 in many of the biggest cities, 180/100 000 on county level). Thankfully, the ubiquitous Estonian builders didn’t manage to infect that many Finns (there have been large outbreaks on construction sites, though).

    What irks me here in Finland is that the Govt went from trying to restrict people from going anywhere else than work, grocery shopping, seeing one’s SO and helping old or disabled friends and relatives*** to letting restaurants reopen and getting kids back to classrooms in a short time. The incidence is now approximately at the same level as it was when the restaurants were shut down. Granted, 70+ people have been mostly vaccinated now, but they don’t spread the disease that much any way, people aged 20-50 do.
    * = Actually, the State Epidemiologist Tegnell was a firm believer of herd immunity by letting the epidemic spread. Nobody consulted the king, AFAIK, who is probably best left to playing with his sports cars.
    ** = Their economy is going great, but the mortality from Covid is horrible, nine times the deaths compared to Finland (Sweden 137/100 000, Finland 16/100 000, USA 176/100 000).
    *** = Shot down as unconstitutional by the Constitutional Law Committee of the Parliament, who in their infinite wisdom went on to suggest that restricting people from having more than a set number of strangers at home is less of an violation of human and civil rights than restricting their movement in public places.

  4. quotetheunquote says

    @Marcus #3-
    Alas, here in benighted central Canada, we’re in a similar situation; it’s as though the provincial governments (which have the ultimate responsibility for issues such a vaccine distribution and “lockdown” orders) feel *so very badly* for the U.S. that they want to screw up royally, so as to make some of the States look better by comparison.

    Well, congrats, it’s working.

    Hey, we even made the headlines on Al-Jazeera! Whoot!

  5. says

    I live in a country that went from being the best to be the worst with regard to COVID. Now everyone knows someone who was severely sick and everyone knows someone who knows someone who died. So I can only look in envy at literally any other country out there.

    That being said, I do hope things turn out reasonably well for you. These are “interesting” times and I cannot wait till they are over.

  6. davex says

    I understand that the 7-day incidence metric might have some particular value for public healt, since it is somewhat related to the incubation time, and weekly periodicity patters in reporting but it is confusing as heck for communication. The public health folks should use the seven day average instead, since to make it comparable with the daily numbers. Since it’s just a constant factor (divide by 7) the numbers would behave the same, and it would make it easy to compare the daily, 7-day, fortnightly, and bi-fortnightly statistics on a common, easily communicated scale

    Financial analysts use short-term and long term moving averages to quickly detect and show changes in trends, and public health folks should take advantage of it.

    For COVID foreign travel advisories, the CDC uses 28 day sums and thresholds: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/map-and-travel-notices.html — Very High risk is more than 100 new cases/100Kpop/28 days (per https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/how-level-is-determined.html)

    CDC US domestic travel is new cases/100K/pop https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#cases_casesper100klast7days without thresholds.

    For school guidance, the CDC initially used new cases/100Kpop/14day sums and thresholds, and 200new cases/100K/14 days was highest risk of transmission in schools (4x more lax than the foreign travel threshold) but now has changes to new cases/100Kpop/7 days, (which is still 4x lax) (per https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/indicators.html#interpretation)

    If they spoke of 28, 14, and 7 day moving averages, the metrics all fit on the same scale as the daily numbers, and you could explain the thresholds consistently, and also explain the value of the 7, 14, and 28 day averages.

    As is, telling people the new action thresholds for schools have new colors and are now 3,10, 25, and 100 versus 5,20,50, and 200 is poor communication.

    rant rant rant….

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