Hospitals and medical services are struggling to keep up.

That’s the story of the coronavirus crisis that we’re waking up to here in Italy. Lombardy hospitals and doctors are at their max, and probably well past it. Bergamo, one of my favorite, picturesque towns in the province particularly is struggling.

I’ve been remaining mostly calm, though I have moments of despair when I’m crumbling under the avalanche of discouraging news. If only there was something encouraging, a real light at the end of the tunnel, I’d have more wind in my sails. Today, when I did my morning check-in to see how the situation is unfolding I came across this article with the following headline:

“Italy’s coronavirus disaster: At first, officials urged people to go out for an aperitif. Now, doctors must choose who dies” — ABC News Australia

Does any part of this sound familiar to you?

I’m mostly speaking to my English speaking friends in the UK or in The States. And I’m talking specifically about what I perceive as irresponsible behaviors that encourage people to get out and have a drink or go to a restaurant. Just over two weeks ago the leader of Italy’s Democratic Party, Nicola Zingaretti, went out for an aperitif and a light dinner while encouraging Italians to avoid “destroying life or spreading panic.” Nine days later Zingaretti tested posted for the coronavirus, and a wide swath of people who came into contact with him were quarantined.

Some people may be thinking that I’m an alarmist. Well, I am sounding the alarm and I’ve been trying to do so for my followers (and people who stumble across my blog). I’m trying to raise awareness when I see people stumbling down the same path that led Italy to where it is right now, and that is a very scary place to be. While I continue to keep myself from panicking, it doesn’t escape my notice that if I were to get sick (not just with coronavirus) my access to treatment might be zilch or close to it.

When I hear that hearses are lining up at cemeteries and crematoriums are running around the clock in Lombardy, I really snap to attention. I’m not purposely trying to scare people, but I am trying to shake them and say “Take this seriously!” Just yesterday, I felt my ire rising when I saw photos of crowded beaches in Clearwater, Florida, and bars full of people celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. I remember how similar gatherings were occurring here in Italy a couple of weeks ago in spite of grave warnings. If only we could go back in time.

The coronavirus crisis doesn’t respect borders.

I can’t conceive of the mental trickery a person employs to think that they somehow have a different, stronger immunity to this highly contagious virus. We’re seeing curves similar to Italy’s playing out all over the world. Yet why are people so slow to action? Why even take the time to entertain that this is some kind of liberal media smear campaign? Why chance anything in this unprecedented situation?

The coronavirus trend in Italy at the end of this week is critical.

That’s because the country will have been under the lockdown for fifteen days, the supposed “outside” window of going from being infected to showing symptoms. The estimated average is four to five days, but Italy has to look at the longer odds. I pray that we see a leveling out of cases which will be an indication that the lockdown indeed is having an effect. If so, then hopefully the death rate will follow suit. THEN, maybe the hospitals can catch up and manage subsequent cases more effectively.

Yes, we hope. But…

Many Italians still aren’t heeding the lockdown.

GRRR!!!! It was reported yesterday that the police issued around 8,000 fines to people who were caught being out-and-about without a sanctioned reason (food shopping, pharmacy, bank, some jobs). These fines can also come with three months in jail and a permanent mark on a person’s criminal record. You’d think those things would be sufficient deterrents, but I guess not. And, just minutes ago I went to the kitchen to get a glass of water, looked out the window, and saw a guy out jogging like nothing was going on.

I get it. Giving up our normal routines and activities is not something we’ve really had to do for any real length of time. And, people naturally resist and protest giving up these freedoms. It’s painful.

Accept prolonged inconvenience. The alternative is far worse.

If there’s any strong message I’d like to leave you with, it’s this. I’ve said this multiple times already: let Italy’s response, which was arguably too slow in the beginning, be a valuable lesson to you. If there’s anything you can do to avoid being in a coronavirus crisis of the same magnitude, please do it, and don’t just wait to be told by your government!

And, an important “Thank You”

In the midst of all this, I have been buoyed by your support and concern. It’s easy to go stir crazy and to let my mind fall into an endless tumble of worrying. Your warm words, you’re checking in with me to make sure we’re safe and healthy keep me grounded and hopeful that, while this daunting situation seems endless, we will somehow weather it and emerge smarter and more united as a species.

My best to you all.