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As the number of cases rises, Germany extends the virus lockout until mid-April.

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As the number of cases rises, Germany extends the virus lockout until mid-April.
As the number of cases rises, Germany extends the virus lockout until mid-April.

As the number of cases rises, Germany extends the virus lockout until mid-April.

 

In an attempt to reduce the incidence of coronavirus infections, Germany has extended its lockdown measures for another month and introduced some new restrictions, including largely shutting down public life over Easter.

Chancellor Angela Merkel announced early Tuesday, following a lengthy video call with the country’s 16 state governors, that restrictions previously scheduled to last until March 28 would now last until April 18.

Coronavirus infections have slowly risen in Germany as the more infectious strain first discovered in Britain has taken hold, and the country’s daily case count per capita has surpassed that of the United States.

Merkel told reporters in Berlin, “We essentially have a new pandemic.”

“Essentially, we have a new virus, one that is clearly of the same kind but has entirely different characteristics,” she continued. “Much more lethal, much more contagious (and) infectious for a longer period of time.”

Several states have managed to avoid going back into stricter lockdowns when the weekly number of new infections reaches 100 per 100,000 people for three consecutive days since their last meeting three weeks ago, when the two sides agreed on a multi-step strategy to ease restrictions.

Merkel said unequivocally that she would not consider this.

“Unfortunately, we’re going to have to use this emergency brake,” she said.

On Monday, the weekly infection rate per 100,000 people in the United States was 107, up from the mid-60s three weeks earlier.

From April 1-3, officials decided to largely shut down public life, adding a public holiday and closing several shops. From April 1 to 5, public meetings would be prohibited in order to allow people to stay at home.

Authorities have decided on a blanket requirement for air travelers to be checked for COVID-19 before boarding a flight to Germany, citing concerns about the increase in Germans traveling abroad for vacations.

Creating legally sound laws has been a challenge at times. A court in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous province, ruled Monday that laws requiring people to make appointments to visit shops were unconstitutional. It said they disobeyed a requirement that companies be treated equally.

The state government quickly reinstated the laws, tightening them for certain previously excluded companies, such as bookstores and garden centers.

According to the agreement reached on Tuesday, authorities would attempt to provide free assessments to all students and teachers in German schools, many of which have only recently reopened after months of remote instruction.

Merkel said Germany had seen “successes but also failures” during the first phase of the pandemic last spring, but maintained that the situation would improve as more citizens got vaccinated.

Germany’s vaccination program has fallen short of expectations so far, with just around 9% of the population receiving at least one dose and 4% receiving both doses by Sunday.

“It’s going to be challenging for a lot longer than we anticipated,” Merkel said. “However, there is certainly a light at the end of the tunnel.”

When asked about the EU’s proposals to limit vaccine and component exports, Merkel said she supported the bloc’s executive Commission’s efforts to ensure contracts are fulfilled, citing the EU’s supply problems with the AstraZeneca shot.

Britain, which left the EU last year, has voiced strong opposition to the proposals, claiming that it would be cut off from supplies.

Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron both said they had spoken to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson about the problem in recent days, and that EU leaders will try to make a decision “in a responsible manner” at a virtual summit on Thursday.

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Colorado rescuers searched for hiker who didn’t answer phone calls

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Colorado rescuers searched for hiker who didn’t answer phone calls

LEADVILLE — A Colorado search and rescue team is urging people who are late in returning from the outdoors to answer their phones if they get repeated calls from an unknown number after spending hours looking for a hiker who never knew they were the subject of a search.

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Tractor-trailer overturned on Poplar Street Bridge ramp to 44/55

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Tractor-trailer overturned on Poplar Street Bridge ramp to 44/55

ST. LOUIS – A tractor-trailer overturned and was blocking traffic Tuesday morning on the Poplar Street Bridge.

The tractor-trailer overturned on the ramp from the Poplar Street Bridge onto the ramp to 44/55.

FOX 2’s Bommarito Automotive Group SkyFOX helicopter flew over the scene.

FOX 2 will continue to update this story with more information as it becomes available.

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Two Missouri universities using pandemic funds to cancel student debt

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Two Missouri universities using pandemic funds to cancel student debt

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Harris-Stowe University in St. Louis says it is using federal pandemic relief funds to cancel student debts from the previous academic year. Harris-Stowe, one of the two historically Black universities in Missouri, said it erased about $330,000 in debt, averaging about $1,076 per student.

LaTonia Collins Smith, Harris-Stowe’s interim president, said the coronavirus pandemic created so much debt for students that the university had low enrollment this fall. She said many students lost their jobs because of COVID-19 and could not pay balances for previous years.

Lincoln University, Missouri’s other historically Black university, announced it July that was using pandemic funds to forgive about $1.5 million in student debt.

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