Coronavirus Briefing: What Occurred Immediately

Europe has spent weeks trying to slow the spread of the virus with targeted restrictions, rather than the unpopular nationwide bans imposed in the spring. But as an angry second wave pushes hospitalizations, deaths and cases to levels not seen since the pandemic began, countries have begun to change course.

France today announced a nationwide lockdown until December 1 that only allows schools and key businesses to stay open. Germany got very close to one, closing restaurants, gyms and museums for a month, but exempting schools and shops – “Lockdown Lite”, as the Germans called it.

Elsewhere on the continent, people already saw their lives severely restricted. Spain fell into a state of emergency last week while the Italian government closed restaurants at 6 p.m. on Sunday. Belgium, which currently has the highest infection rate in the region, recently closed restaurants, museums and gyms.

The moves are troubled business leaders who say the lockdowns will destroy any hope of economic recovery. European stocks fell to their lowest level in months.

However, with hospitals filling at an alarming rate, doctors and medical experts are saying the closings are necessary. In Germany, the number of patients in hospitals has doubled in the last 10 days, and in France the health system was two weeks away from hitting the same number of hospitalizations as the peak of the first wave.

Frédéric Valletoux, President of the French Hospitals Association, said hospitals were in a much more precarious situation than in the spring: staff were exhausted from the first wave, there was less scope to postpone treatments or operations to make room for Covid-19 Patients and other epidemics like the flu would arrive soon with the onset of winter.

For the first time in years, chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis rates, which were on track to hit record highs in the US in 2020, have plummeted. Studies have shown that the pandemic has deterred people from socializing in bars, nightclubs, and large parties, reducing the opportunities for unsafe sex.

Sounds like an unintended blessing from the pandemic, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, sexual health experts believe the decline could be a harbinger of bad news. They say sexually transmitted diseases are more likely to go undetected than a decline in sexually transmitted diseases. People in need of treatment may avoid clinics for fear of the coronavirus, while some sexual health clinics have fewer hours or are closed. Contact tracers for gonorrhea and syphilis have been redirected to Covid-19 cases.

Some regions are running low on supplies needed to test for sexually transmitted diseases as swab, tube, and reagent manufacturers divert their products for use in coronavirus testing. As a result, there is a growing shortage of tests for the diseases.

Here is a summary of the restrictions in all 50 states.

For a 67-year-old widower, the pandemic seems like the most unlikely time to fall in love. By taking online dating outside of the box that most seniors are comfortable with, it offers unexpected opportunities. The discovery of another widower on the same page regarding Covid resulted in our being tested. We shared negative results and built the trust that is lacking in typical young relationships. The spark uncovered at our first face-to-face meeting quickly ignited into something much stronger. In weeks, relative social isolation resulted in bonds that typically take months in a busy pre-Covid world. We look at each other and shake our heads with a smile. A new hashtag sums it up: #mypandemicmiracle.

– Mark Alberhasky, Atlanta

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