On Valentine’s Day of this year, Mattia showed up at the hospital in Codogno with a light case of pneumonia. Despite treatments, the pneumonia persisted. Annalisa Malara, doctor at the hospital, thought that if a standard illness is treated in a standard way and doesn’t go away, then maybe it’s not a standard illness. And thanks to her female intuition, she tested Mattia for the coronavirus. Once the results were known, life in Italy began to radically change.
The entire town of Codogna became “zona rossa” and quarantined. But the coronavirus kept spreading thus the extension of the zona rossa—first the entire region of Lombardy and now all of Italy. We are living a new version of la vida loca and it’s called lockdown.
The coronavirus vade mecum put out by the government stresses the importance of social distancing to avoid contagion. Schools are all closed. Masses can’t be held. Museums, cinemas, sporting events are closed, too. You can go to the grocery store but must stay at least 1 meter away from other people. Even the banks limit the number of people who can go in at a time.
There’s also an emphasis on handwashing. Much contagion comes from touching contaminated surfaces. So we are all now cleaning communally used objects such as door knobs.
Italy has an excellent health care system. But it is not prepared to have so many people in such extreme conditions. Doctors and nurses who have been working non-stop are starting to crumble. Hospitals are full and intensive care is at its limit. And, we’ve read, it may get to the point that doctors will have to choose whose life to save. Precedence will be given to those with more possibilities of being cured. Thus the elderly, who generally have pre-existing medical conditions, are more at risk.
The coronavirus likes to travel and will soon be coming your way. So be prepared. I am very lucky to be living in a country with a socialized medical system. No one has to pay to be tested or to be treated. It’s better to pay for the health of everyone than it is to pay for Wall Street bailouts, wars, and walls. If nothing else, the coronavirus will help us reconsider our priorities.
It’s a beautiful day in Rome and I’m happy to be here!
Note: The root of Mattia’s COVID 19 contamination came from Bavaria…we are still wondering why, if it started there, so few cases from Bavaria are being reported.