It’s the second week of the COVID-19 lockdown in Italy. The entire country is in the so-called “red zone”. About three weeks ago, people refused to take the arrival of this virus seriously, partly because Dr Maria Rita Gismondo, the Director of the Laboratory of Microbiology, Virology, and Bio-emergencies at Luigi Sacco University Hospital in Milan, had reported that it was little more than the regular flu and that the virus would have been no longer discussed after a week (by March 4). She thought the Italian public had been collectively brainwashed by the media, stating, “C’e’ stato un lavaggio del cervello collettivo.” She wasn’t the only influential person who thought there was little to fear. Thus, many people didn’t know what to think. I, for example, wondered why the Chinese had put forth so much effort to fight this virus if it wasn’t so lethal. I remained worried, although, thanks to Dr Gismondo, I thought it was still safe to circulate cautiously. Likewise, many employers continued to force their employees to work, thinking that Dr Gismondo and a few other “experts” were right after all.
At Cremona, one of the regions battered by COVID-19, some 60 Americans representing the “Samaritan’s Purse” have decided to render aid by supplying Maggiore Hospital with necessary materials arriving from the United States. These Americans have generously furnished medical equipment in terrible conflicts such as Somalia, Rwanda, Afghanistan, and Iraq (according to Corriere della Sera). Their staff consists of sixty people, including physicians and technicians. They will be providing sixty beds and eight spots for intensive therapy. There has already been a meeting between these volunteers and Giuseppe Rossi, the director of Maggiore Hospital. Gianluca Galimberti, the mayor, is thankful that these good Samaritans have arrived in Italy.
There is an appeal from local leaders to respect the norms because the cases of illness are still increasing. By evening, the streets of Milan will be empty. The president of the Lombardy region, Attilio Fontana, is begging citizens to stay home because he says that more drastic measures will have to be taken if people don’t reduce the numbers outside; every exit from home is a risk for the one who exits and for others as well.
On Wednesday morning at the Casa Santa Marta Chapel, Pope Francis prayed for the deceased and for the health care providers who have given their lives for others. He prayed to God for an end to the pandemic and for healing for sick people. Pope Francis urges the populace not to waste this time, to try to become closer to their families and to spend time wisely in reflection. Moreover, a major conference that Pope Francis had planned to attend later in March, “The Economy of Francis” at Assisi, has been postponed due to the gravity of the Corona Virus situation.
Marcello Natali, a 57-year-old physician, Secretary of Provincial Medics in Lodi, has given his life, fighting until the end to save his patients. Although he didn’t have any pre-existing conditions, he didn’t make it, showing that anyone can fall prey to CORONA-19. According to Corriere della Sera (18 March 2020), Natali was taken to intensive therapy on 11 March after having begged the government to provide more tests for the citizenry. Not long afterwards, he was transferred to Milan. Like many other physicians, nurses, and volunteers who have worked for long hours throughout this emergency, Marcello Natali will forever remain a hero.
Many Italians have taken to the Internet to keep in contact with friends and family. Neighbourhood solidarity groups have formed on Facebook, Instagram, and other social networking websites. Many people who never have used these sites before are now utilizing them to cheer each other up and make suggestions about resolving problems. A Facebook user posted old photos of community members when they were children so that other members could participate in guessing who those children were. Others snapped more recent photos of nature.
Italians on Facebook want to know who will be delivering food, water, and even pizza to their local homes. Many make comments about the ways people should respond to this international emergency (i.e. by not walking too much around the village and by staying inside as much as possible). Many argue about what constitutes acceptable exercise; is walking outdoors really permissible exercise during this difficult period when everyone is supposed to be locked-down indoors? Must one be “running” in order to move around town? Fortunately, local priests have set up religious services, prayers, and the mass online to unite citizenry and give them faith. May their prayers be answered!