To date, I’ve resisted weighing-in on the coronavirus crisis in Italy on my blog. For one reason, the situation changes significantly on a daily basis. So anything written today might be totally irrelevant (not to mention inaccurate) by next week. But also, I’m not living there at the moment, so I don’t feel that I have the first-hand experience to make any credible commentary (although it now seems I will have first-hand experience soon enough).
So instead, what I thought I’d do is to speak directly with people, both expats and Italians, about the situation on the ground at the moment. I’ve tried to get a good cross-section with regards to geography and role/job in the daily life of Italy.
Five Takes on the Coronavirus Crisis in Italy
In this episode you heard five stories. I actually spoke with a few more but didn't want to add any more length to the track. I would like to add a second part to this, and so I will update this page as needed.
So here they are, three Italians and two expats representing the hardest hit areas of the country. Three of them are directly involved in tourism, and two are not. However, nobody in the country is unaffected by this pandemic. Let's meet them.
- https://www.facebook.com/carmelita.caruana COOK ITALY is creating a series of small recipe ebooks.
- https://www.facebook.com/yummyitaly/ Helena Kyriakide is getting ready to do some online classes for pasta making.
- https://www.patreon.com/Touritaly Teacher and tour guide offering online lectures
- https://www.patreon.com/Divinacucina My own online classes
- https://www.facebook.com/groups/598872197506799/ Rita Guastamacchia has a Masseria in Puglia and is starting online demo's with recipes and taking deposits for culinary weeks
The #Corona Diaries: Dispatches from the Front Lines in #Italy
The Spanish Flu of 1918
For perspective, and to learn a lesson from history, experts have been pointing to the 1981 Global Pandemic named "The Spanish Flu. 500 million infected (1/3 of the global population). Estimated 70 million dead. So if you do the math, the mortality rate was around 14%, which is huge, even compared to coronavirus. Then again this was before the advent of modern medicine, notably antibiotics to treat superimposed infections, which was a major cause of death.
Also, most people back then (even public health officials) didn’t understand the importance of hand washing. They DID, however, understand the importance of social distancing and “flattening the curve.” Indeed, the suggests that social distancing is even more important than personal hygiene with regards to limiting the spread of a contagion.
You may have already heard the tale of two cities; Philadelphia and Saint Louis, as referenced in this graph by The Washington Post. Fast forward to 2020 and swap out Philadelphia for Italy, and Saint Louis for South Korea.
Now the question being posed to the leader of the Federal Government in the U.S. is, "Two months from now, do you want to look like Italy... or South Korea?" So far, it looks like we're opting to take the same path as our Italian friends. Alas.
Click the link to check out other episodes and see my list of the best podcasts about Italy.