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The Pandemic in Austria

26 Mar

I’ve been recording the numbers more or less daily for three(!) years and have decided to stop. For that, I did want to do a quick review.

On 26 March 2020, 35,995 tests had been done. (A lot, I think, given that the pandemic made it into our consciousness only about two weeks before that.) As of yesterday, 207,503,628 had been carried out, an unimaginably big number. At the height of the testing campaign, there were a few days when over 500,000 tests were done per day. The daily rate is currently around 25,000. (Out of gratitude for them, I try not to think too clearly about what the testing and vaccination campaigns have done to the environment.)

The early statistics included only four numbers: tests, confirmed cases, deaths, and recoveries. We now get eight numbers: the seven-day average (as of yesterday: 246.9 compared to over 1,100 at its peak), tests (see above), positive tests (a cumulative number: 6,021,769), active cases (currently 37,912), people hospitalized (1,044), people in intensive care (in addition to those hospitalized: 55), fatalities (22,082), and recoveries (5,961,775).

For a while, I was also keeping track every few days of the vaccination rates, but these have hardly changed in the last few months so it hasn’t been very interesting. (In fact, it started to get a bit discouraging.) My last recorded figures tell me that 71.8% of the population have gotten two doses; 56.2% have gotten three; and only 18.7% percent have been “aufgefrischt”, which is defined as having gotten 4 or more.

Not only have the numbers changed. The terminology has, too. “Bestätigte Fälle” (confirmed cases) became at some point “In Labor bestätigte Fälle” presumably to distinguish those results from the ones we get from self tests, of which we still get five per month for free on our health insurance. “Todesfälle” has become “Verstorbene,” which sounds a bit more tender. And “Auskuriert” has become “Genesene” (recovered). I’d love to know the reasons for the changes, but I don’t.

Coronavirus is still with us, but we are getting back to life without masks and such frequent testing. Spring seems the perfect season to live a bit more again, a bit like coming out of hibernation.

Should you be interested in where I got the numbers:

Wishing all a beautiful Sunday and great health!


NYTimes: Robert Clary, Who Took a Tragic Journey to ‘Hogan’s Heroes,’ Dies at 96

20 Nov

Robert Clary, Who Took a Tragic Journey to ‘Hogan’s Heroes,’ Dies at 96

My brother and I used to sneak “Hogan’s Heroes” because (a) we were limited in how much TV we were allowed to watch and (b) my mother, having grown up in Nazi Germany, objected to making light in any way of what happened. Would she feel differently if she knew that one actor was a concentration camp survivor and three were refugees? Perhaps. Or perhaps the reminders of those years would all still be too painful.

Three refugees, you ask? Robert Clary’s obituary only mentions Wilhelm Klemperer and John Banner. They left out Leon Askin, who played General Burkhalter. He was born Leon Aschkenasy in Vienna and lost both his parents in Treblinka. Ever since I learned that, years ago, I’ve thought how therapeutic it must have been to play the bad-tempered and quite repulsive General.

A particularly Austrian solution

20 Dec

Seems a particularly Austrian solution to me. It is against the law for descendants of aristocratic families to use their titles and has been since 1918. The maximum penalty? 14 cents. 🙂

Georg Kapsch: The departing head of the Federation of Austrian Industries

13 Jun

This is something that really struck me when I moved to Austria – how the relationship between management and labor was more collaborative than in the U.S.A. There was a sense that Austria as a whole could only do well if everyone was doing all right, that economic success could not happen on the backs of one group.

In this interview, it becomes clear that Georg Kapsch is of the old school. A departing president of the body representing (big) business talking about how to close the gap between rich and poor and how to make sure everyone gets the education they need to be a contributing member of society? Seems pretty radical these days. I hope his successor is on the same page!

A link to the interview is below. Unfortunately, you do have to subscribe to the digital edition to read the whole thing.

The ORF reporting in the time of the coronavirus

25 Mar

As I was listening to the news this morning I was impressed and grateful for the ORF coverage and general approach to reporting on the coronavirus crisis. One thing they have done is set up a toll-free number where people can call and leave their questions on an answering machine. The questions are then grouped according to concern, the ORF has people getting definitive answers, and the answers are announced on the news. After that, the questions and answers are available on their website. A real service in a time when clear and reliable information helps people take the steps they need to take.

The ORF, by the way, is the national broadcasting corporation in Austria, rather like the BBC is in the U.K.

NYTimes: My Lockdown Diary, From a Small, Old Town in Italy

15 Mar

My Lockdown Diary, From a Small, Old Town in Italy

I read this an hour or two ago and now the ORF (Austrian broadcasting) has just announced that Tyrol is being locked down along these lines.

Political colors in Austria

8 Jan

I may have written before about the colors of Austria’s political parties–black used to be the color of the ÖVP (the conservative party), turquoise is the color of the new ÖVP under Sebastian Kurz, red is the color of the SPÖ (the social democratic party), pink is for the NEOs (the neoliberals), blue is the color of the FPÖ (the right-wing nationalist party), and green is, I believe, self-explanatory.

Commenting on the new coalition government, formed by the turquoise and green parties, President Alexander van der Bellen (formerly of the Greens now an independent) said he hoped for a red-white-red government. Nothing to do with political parties this time. Red-white-red are the colors of the Austrian flag.

Only in Austria?

5 Jan

Austria has the reputation of being “gemütlich”–one of those words that is well-nigh impossible to translate. If you look in the dictionary, the primary suggestion is “comfortable” but “gemütlich” means much more than that. It implies, among other things, an appreciation for a slower pace of life and a preference for quality of life (if a choice must be made) over standard of living as well as for relaxation over precision.

At the same time, it’s not uncommon for Austrians to be very pragmatic in their pursuit of “Gemütlichkeit”. The image above, from today’s Kurier, informs readers of the best times to take vacation, where “best” is defined as getting the most days off while still using the fewest vacation days (and this in a country where five weeks of vacation per year is the legal minimum).

How does this work? Because Austria, unlike the U.S.A., celebrates its holidays on the day they happen, we have something called “window days” (“Fenstertage”). These are the days that fall between a holiday and a weekend. The graphic above shows where the window days fall in 2019, making it easier for people to get the most out of their vacation days.

Only in Austria?

At it again

7 Oct

Austria cleaned up at the EuroSkills competition (for people learning trades and crafts) for the fourth time in a row with a total of 21 medals. Russia (a rather larger country than Austria, if I may point that out) came in second with a total of 19. The Russians did have more gold medals (nine to Austria’s four), but still. I’m so glad there are still countries that promote and reward the trades!

NYTimes: Cleaving to the Medieval, Journeymen Ply Their Trades in Europe

8 Aug

Cleaving to the Medieval, Journeymen Ply Their Trades in Europe

The Times makes the point that this is a tradition mainly in German-speaking countries. That’s in keeping with the respect for apprenticeships I’m so fond of writing about.