Merkel backs tougher virus curbs as German deaths hit record

BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel has advocated tougher restrictions on public life and pleaded with her compatriots to cut down on socializing as the country reports its highest single-day coronavirus death toll yet. Germany is gradually moving toward a tighter lockdown, at least for a limited period after Christmas, as new virus cases remain stubbornly high and are now beginning to creep higher despite a partial shutdown that started on Nov. 2. Merkel has consistently advocated decisive action during the pandemic but has often had to move more slowly because Germany’s 16 state governments are responsible for imposing and lifting restrictions. Germany on Wednesday reported 590 more virus-related deaths, a record.