Meredith March (right), raised and educated in Utah County, now lives and works in Vicenza, Italy. This was written last week as the pandemic in Italy reached greater intensity. She is a public affairs specialist.

I have been posting the things that inspire me during this scary time, but every day my heart is breaking more and more for my beautiful host country, Italy.

Today, 793 people died. That is 366 more than the day before. These people likely died alone, in isolation, and their families will not be able to hold funerals or even graveside services. If they died in Bergamo, where this doctor https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OlVnnL736Tc&feature=youtu.be

works and so many are dying, their bodies may have to be delivered by convoys of military trucks to crematoriums in other parts of Italy, because the cemeteries and crematoriums in Lombardy cannot keep up with the death rates.

Doctors and nurses are dying as well. Some are younger, some came out of retirement to help. The priests who have been giving last rites are dying. The obituary sections in newspapers have gone from one and a half to 10 pages daily.

A young American woman in my city posted today about three people dying in the next room within 90 minutes of each other while she was at our local hospital covered in protective clothing and being treated for an upper respiratory infection.

In Italy, we are no longer permitted to leave the house for walks, runs, or bike rides. We are not allowed out of our homes except to get groceries or mail, take out the trash, do laundry, or work. We are not supposed to go farther than 200 meters from our homes to do these things, with very rare exceptions. We have to carry forms with our addresses on them certifying we are not in 14-day quarantine and we have not tested positive for the virus. If we are found to be too far away or not taking the most direct route, we can be fined or jailed. I do not resent these measures because I understand it is to protect us. I encourage you to take these same measures now, even though it is not yet required of you. It will be.

Please do not make the mistake of thinking this has anything to do with socialized medicine or lack of capabilities. Italy’s health-care system is world class, consistently among the top 5 in the entire world, and this is happening here.

I feel it is important to tell you this not to frighten you, but to be honest. This is not just about hanging out at home watching Netflix and singing from balconies. Please, give if you can. If you pray, please pray for Italy.

Whatever you do, do more than social distancing. Stay at home for everything except for the essentials. Work from home if you can. Send only one person to the grocery store and go as infrequently as possible. Don’t even socialize in groups of 10 or 5. Do not risk either becoming ill yourself or unknowingly exposing someone else.

This is not the flu. People can have it and never have symptoms. They can also give it to someone who doesn’t get sick for two weeks but has been contagious all that time. Stay home for yourself, but also stay home for others. It takes every person following these rules very, very strictly to make a difference.

Please, please, stay home.

Meredith March

Vicenza, Italy 

NO COMMENTS