This is an article written by Monica Maggioni, a veteran journalist and the CEO of RaiCom, a division of Italian public television, published in the Washington Post today, titled “In Italy, we live in silence, die in silence — and wait”.
It is a melancholic, superbly-written but heart-wrenching letter which, in a few paragraphs, paints a multi-layered picture of the situation in Italy, how they got there and a perspective on the future. The letter has obvious relevance to our own situation here and contains some cautionary hints about what lies ahead.
Here we present a few snippets from the letter (emphasis mine).
An admission of how most Italians did not take this seriously -
For many Italians, the normal warnings about this virus were simply not enough to change behavior. Denial comes too easily, perhaps. It was more convenient to blame some foreign germ-spreader, or pretend that the news was unreal. Then came a reality check: Last Sunday, Pope Francis gave a benediction not from his normal window at the Vatican but via video, in part to avoid the crowd on St. Peter’s Square but also to send a message. That was the first strong sign to snap out of it.
A grim picture of what Italy looks like, the feelings of people living in world turned upside down and the human toll it is extracting. Think it will be different here?
Now I find myself confined in a place where time is suspended. All the shops are closed, except for groceries and pharmacies. All the bars and restaurants are shuttered. Every tiny sign of life has disappeared. The streets are totally empty; it is forbidden even to take a walk unless you carry a document that explains to authorities why you have left your house.
Now the idea that even funerals cannot be celebrated is a source of further anguish. These days, in Italy, you die in silence and you’ll be buried in silence.
What doctors are facing -
It is impossible to describe what they (doctors) are going through. The lack of intensive-care beds forces them to make impossible decisions: who can be helped and who is too old, or too weak, to even try to save. This can really destroy your resistance as a human being
A very perceptive perspective on other countries -
I know, of course, that what is happening here could happen next in Rome, or a week later in France or in Germany. The United States might be a week or two behind that. It looks as if the same shifts in perception, the same shifts in political discourse, are taking place everywhere, delayed or accelerated only by a country’s ability to face the facts.
A few words of wisdom —
We have learned that this is not just another flu; it’s a terrible new virus that is challenging a whole nation, Europe itself and perhaps the entire planet. And there’s no miracle recipe except for a profound respect for the advice of scientists, the need of a sense of community and a health-care system able to detect the next moves of the virus.
Here is a pic of Monica Maggioni -
Scenes from Italy
It is a grim sight to behold places that are normally teeming with humanity now lie empty and desolate.
Follow the link below for pics of some more surreal scenes from Italy -
Singing in the times of Coronavirus
You must have seen some of the videos of Italians singing from their balconies, keeping spirits up in their neighborhoods. This is one of the most beautiful, haunting and surreal videos in locked-down Siena.
The song is a popular song called The Canto della Verbena.
A few more singing scenes -
From Florence -
Since there is no vaccine or treatment for this virus, the best we can do is take all the precautionary measures that have been recommended many times — practice social distancing, work from home, wash hands, avoid touching your face, avoid infecting others, avoid large gatherings. All this needs to be done by everyone, not a random few. We need to shut down all public gatherings for a few weeks to slow down the spread of the virus enough to allow hospitals and healthcare workers to handle the cases that will emerge. All this should have been done 6 weeks ago, when the epidemic in Wuhan was peaking; instead the world (and the USA in particular) dropped the ball on this one and everyone will pay the price.
Stay calm and stay strong.
For some info about the Coronavirus situation in Italy and some medical findings from there, check out diary “Coronavirus - Data from Italy and Implications for US.”