Speed Reads

'simple precautions'

How Germany is beating COVID, and what America can learn

Germany is in a "much better position" than America to say "auf wiedersehen" to COVID-19, thanks to a series of basic, manageable measures helping mitigate Delta variant-associated risk, writes Yascha Mounk for The Atlantic. That said, U.S. officials could therefore try and learn a thing or two from their European counterparts.

Mounk argues U.S. health authorities should implement four Germany-emulating tactics in their fight against COVID. The first? "Ensure mass events don't facilitate mass transmission," he writes, which he says America can do by applying the same basic rules almost everywhere. In Germany, that means "anybody who wants to dine indoors, go to the theater, or attend a large sporting event has to be vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 within the past six months." Otherwise, you must've tested negative for the disease within the last 24 hours. Conversely, in the U.S. "the organizers of mass events aren't required to ensure that attendees have little risk of spreading COVID," and many businesses and sports teams often ask for vaccination status voluntarily.

The second tactic? Make testing cheap, easy, and available at home. While, for many fully-vaccinated Germans, eligibility for free testing has begun being rolled back, accessible, efficient centers remain plentiful, as do cheap at-home test kits. By contrast, testing in the U.S. is "comparatively expensive and inaccessible."

Third, Mounk argues Americans should, like Germans, ditch cloth masks in favor of surgical masks — such as KN95s, or their widely-used German equivalent FFP2s — which are comparatively more effective. 

And finally, he writes, U.S. officials must figure out and reinvigorate serious contact tracing efforts, a practice that has helped German businesses remain open even during outbreaks.

Of course, there is no COVID "silver bullet," says Mounk. But America could make things easier for itself with just a few "simple precautions."