For about two weeks, Cristina Higgins, an American who lives in Italy, hasn’t traveled further from her apartment building than the driveway. She begins her days at the breakfast table with her husband and three children. Then, the kids go online to do their schoolwork from home. Throughout the day, Cristina looks at the news for updates on the coronavirus and checks in on her friends. The family usually spend their evenings by sitting down to play Monopoly.
“We have friends who are getting sick. It’s very stressful,” Higgins told NBC News from her home in Bergamo where she, just like everyone else, is under government-ordered home isolation even though she and her family are not sick. “I am nauseous all day long because every time I look at the news or talk to somebody else, something terrible has happened. And I don’t know what’s going to happen next.”
Documenting her thoughts, Cristina made a Facebook post where she explained what her experience has been like. Her story soon went viral, generating over 186,000 reactions, 116,000 comments, and 915,000 shares.
comments, and 915,000 shares.
Recently, Italy restricted movement and closed all stores except for pharmacies, groceries, and other essential services to fight the spread of the virus. But it’s a question of whether they did it in time. For example, Lombardy, the country’s wealthiest region, boasts a health-care system as proficient as any in Western Europe. But The Washington Post reports that its facilities are still forced to delay surgeries, stop HIV treatments, convert regular hospital space into COVID-19 units, and depend on exhausted doctors and nurses in order to keep up.
“This is a war,” said Massimo Puoti, the head of infectious medicine at Milan’s Niguarda hospital, one of the largest in Lombardy. According to him, the goal — just like Christina said — is to limit infections, stave off the epidemic and learn more about the enemy. “We need time.”
However, as difficult as the situation is, the country still manages to get by. Gabriel Gatehouse of BBC Newsnight talked with a senior ICU doctor in Milan and he learned that even though around 10-15% of people who are infected need intensive care units, they’re coping at the moment, and they’re still able to bring into ICU departments everyone who needs them.