Staunton, December 15 – In some Russian regions, doctors even now are being laid off and hospitals cut back or even closed as part of Vladimir Putin’s optimization program that is designed to save Moscow money. Officials justify this action during the pandemic by pointing to declines in the number of people living in those areas (svpressa.ru/blogs/article/284564/).
Today, officials reported registering 26,689 new cases of infection and 577 new deaths from the coronavirus (t.me/COVID2019_official/2183). Rosstat defended its excess death figures which show a higher toll from the pandemic than the government is otherwise reporting, and Andrey Illarionov published an analysis showing why (regnum.ru/news/3141453.html and
regnum.ru/news/3141872.html). That will add fuel to the fire of arguments about whether re-infections are possible and how frequent they may be.
Moscow oblast has extended and tightened restrictions, but Kaliningrad oblast having announced new restrictions, then dropped them from its official website with officials saying that not all the restrictions would in fact be imposed over the holidays (regnum.ru/news/3141603.html and zona.media/article/2020/12/15/klgdlcdwn
regnum.ru/news/3142349.html). Also today, the Moscow Patriarchate said it will fight any restrictions on church services at Christmas (https://www.ng.ru/ng_religii/2020-12-15/9_499_christmas.html).
On the vaccine front, officials reported that more than 150,000 Russians have received the vaccine, including 6,000 in Moscow (profile.ru/society/health/nachali-za-zdravie-ponadobyatsya-li-rossiyanam-spravki-o-privivke-ot-covid-19-461060/). They also said foreigners in Russia can get the shots (themoscowtimes.com/2020/12/15/foreigners-in-moscow-eligible-for-russias-coronavirus-vaccine-a72366
The economic crisis continues to deeper. A new poll found that the share of Russians who consider themselves poor has risen by 25 percent over the last several months alone, and another survey found that Russians are cutting back on 90 percent of the items on their shopping lsits (echo.msk.ru/news/2758574-echo.html and profile.ru/economy/kak-izmenilis-zatraty-rossiyan-v-usloviyax-pandemii-441229/).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· Muscovites may be fined for distributing online pictures showing violations of the sanitary rules in healthcare facilities (egnum.ru/news/3142111.html).
Myths about the coronavirus continue to spread, including most prominently that it was created as a weapon, that smoking and drinking help prevent one from getting it, and that all government measures against the pandemic are useless (rosbalt.ru/piter/2020/12/15/1877641.html