Après-ski: The Spread of Coronavirus from Ischgl through Germany

Gabriel Felbermayr, Julian Hinz and Sonali Chowdhry. Under review.

Observed vs. counterfactual confirmed cases on May 9, 2020.

The Austrian ski resort of Ischgl is commonly claimed to be ground zero for the diffusion of the SARS-CoV-2 virus across Germany. Drawing on data for 401 German counties, we find that conditional on geographical latitude and testing behavior by health authorities, road distance to Ischgl is indeed an important predictor of infection cases, but — in line with expectations — not of fatality rates. Were all German counties located as far from Ischgl as the most distant county of Vorpommern-Rügen, Germany would have seen about 48% fewer COVID-19 cases. A simple diffusion model predicts that the absolute value of the distance-to-Ischgl elasticity should fall over time when inter- and intra-county mobility are unrestricted. We test this hypothesis and conclude that the German lockdown measures have halted the spread of the virus.

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