Vo, a small town just outside of Padova might show the way…
I feel war-weary, waking up to mounting cases and death tolls in this very real coronavirus crisis. I throw my pleas into the great big “whatever” to provide humanity with a path forward when things just keep seeming to make us more fearful and hopeless. And then, this morning, I woke up to an article in my newsfeed about the Italian town of Vo. They’d reached zero new cases of coronavirus. This is material because Vo was one of the original eleven hot zone cities identified when this pandemic first began making its mark in Italy.
So, what has this town done that others haven’t? What might they have to teach us?
Widescale coronavirus testing informs and prevents driving blind.
Read the article for yourself, but Vo basically tested the entirety of its population to ascertain who was infected. The results helped identify who was infected and unknowingly passing on the contagion.
“Scientists say mass tests in Italian town have halted Covid-19 there. A study in Vò, which saw Italy’s first death, points to the danger of asymptomatic carriers” – The Guardian
I’m no expert, but I do read and research pretty voraciously these days in search of something that will help me feel less helpless. This article seems to dovetail with what we’ve been learning in South Korea about younger, asymptomatic people unknowingly fueling the spread of this virus in what ia now a pandemic of epic proportions.
Removing the guesswork in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.
Is this the most potent arrow in our quiver? Might widespread testing inform all of us on a level that helps us to act most responsibly and blunt the increasingly dire effects of this virus? I dare to say YES!!! And, if you’re skeptical, what do we have to lose?
What would you do and how might you behave if you knew you were positive for coronavirus?
Many people just don’t go to this place because currently they feel healthy. But, I challenge people to ask themselves how they might behave if they knew they were asymptomatic yet were infected with the coronavirus. I receive countless inquires from people who think a highly restrictive lockdown isn’t fair. People naturally want to keep doing the things that they feel make them feel good and healthy. I get it. It’s driving me crazy that I can’t hit the gym or run the stairs in our building in the midst of the coronavirus crisis—especially to help work off excess anxiety and to stay sane.
But, from the vantage point that I might be positive, that I might have the potential to infect other people, I behave very differently. We live in Northern Italy. We both recently had brief periods of being “under the weather.” I wouldn’t be surprised if, given Treviso tested all of its residents, that we came up positive. Unfortunately since what happened in Vo isn’t currently available to us, we don’t know. And that brings me back to the importance of coronavirus testing and the potential to have more of an impact blunting the pandemic.
Make noise, use your voice to change the course of the coronavirus crisis.
I read the US headlines about the possibility of a check being issued to all Americans to help them weather this economic downturn. But, what if the best gift was one of knowledge? What if every person could know if they were positive or negative for the coronavirus? If a person is positive, then there is the possibility to get in front of it before it progresses to a point where treatment is an uphill battle. It can also drive more responsible behaviors that might keep other people from being at risk. And, if you’re negative, wow, you might sleep way easier! I would (and I’d be damn sure I’d behave in ways to keep it that way).
Currently, if a person is in a position of power or influence (politicians or celebrities) getting a coronavirus test is within reach. But is that enough? Is it enough to only test people once they exhibit symptoms or can demonstrate close contact with a person who has tested positive? From a person who is currently in strictly-enforced lockdown in Italy while this pandemic rages on, I say “NO!”
And so I come back to the town of Vo…
Please oh please may we not miss what has happened there and how it might benefit us all. And not just Vo, there’s South Korean which expeditiously implemented more widescale testing to help guide their efforts to blunting the rise of cases and delivering a much lower fatality rate. Waiting and only testing people with pronounced symptoms may very well be our Achilles heel.
Spread the news…
I encourage you to share this blog post, or the article sited above, as widely as possible. Maybe together can raise awareness and make a difference.
And, if you haven’t read my post, Italy Reaches Critical Mass with the Coronavirus Crisis I encourage you to do so to get a sense of just how Italy, much further down the curve, is being affected by this pandemic.
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Jed, keep these posts coming. I read them tremendous interest. You and Simone keep up the good work by staying home!
Thanks for the encouragement!