Greetings from the land of the infected.
Upon discovery that Northern Italy was suffering from the Covid-19 epidemic, my husband and I thought it pertinent to do a little research on viruses. So, like any sophisticated couple, we busted out our Italian wine (from Lombardy, of course) and we began our research with "World War Z," followed in rapid succession by "Outbreak," "Contagion," and a Korean film called "Flu."
Now that we are certified to discuss the topic of the Coronavirus, I can tell you that we haven’t yet reached the machete status of "World War Z," but are definitely aware of the similarities between our situation and those of the citizens of "Outbreak’s" Cedar Creek (minus the tanks, concertina wire, and a virus with 100% death rate).
The entire country of Italy is now on official lock down.
The Carabinieri have set up roadblocks to prevent people from traveling without a mandatory reason. These currently include work requirements, medical emergencies, and supply runs all of which must be outlined on an official document. All other businesses are now closed. And the stores, gas stations, and pharmacies that are remaining open are only permitting a few patrons at a time. Anyone permitted to shop is required to follow the government outlined proximity measures (at least 1 meter- or 3.2 feet between people). To better enforce this requirement, stores have actually measured and marked off these spaces near registers and cashiers. Some stores have even installed Plexiglas barriers between cashiers and customers.
All social gatherings and events have been cancelled, and families are encouraged to stay in their own homes. Schools have been closed for a couple weeks now and are not expected to reopen until at least April 3rd, though rumors suggest it will likely be closer to the beginning of May.
The Naval Bases here in Naples are following the above guidelines as well. And in recent days, those guidelines have become stricter. My family has it a little better than our counterparts living off base, because we aren’t quite as isolated.
The Commissary and the NEX, while on compressed hours, are both still open. We have access to plenty of TP and supplies, but now are also required to have documentation of need in order to shop.
The state of things being what it is, I honestly feel like the world has lost its mind. Yes, there are people dying and that is frightening. And yes, being cautious is important. But there seems to be a complete lack of common sense. Instead, panic is the reigning over our emotions. Not logic.
There are waves of panicked shoppers that clear aisles every few days, in fear that stores will close completely. Lines, to both get into stores and then check out, are ridiculous. And you can forget about buying hand sanitizer...anywhere.
Panicking about this doesn’t help you or your family. It doesn’t help your community or your city, and it certainly is not helping the country. Being wise and making reasonable choices is what is needed.
I think my biggest piece of advice, is to do your own research (and not just watching zombie movies). It is so easy to repeat facts thrown out on FB or copied from a random internet article. But that information is not necessarily accurate. Search legitimate sources. The CDC and WHO have resources on their websites that give up to date information about this virus. The WHO actually has a Situation Dashboard that breaks down all the numbers related to this virus by country.
Then you can contrast those numbers with other illnesses like the flu or common cold and see how the numbers differ. The numbers on their own do seem high, but when you take the time to understand what you are actually seeing and reading, you may be surprised about the results. The other important thing to remember is that while this may be a pandemic, it isn’t an outbreak that is guaranteed to kill you. The recovery rate for coronavirus is actually quite high, and even more interesting is that many of the cases probably haven’t even been reported, because people are fighting it and surviving it. 4
Many of these unreported illnesses are likely people with flu like symptoms, who just assume they have the flu, or people who have gone to the hospital only to be told that they don’t have tests available to confirm one way or the other. Take steps to safe guard your family, but don’t overreact. Be proactive, not reactive.
Obviously, this situation is not ideal for anyone. We want to travel, and enjoy a trip to the mall, and eat out at restaurants. We here in Italy are an obvious example of an extreme situation. While the world is watching this and making their own decisions, please know that this will not happen in every city, province or state. That said, while doing your normal shopping, pick up a few extra bags of frozen veg, a few extra cans of beans, or some meat that you can throw in the freezer, etc. Don’t clean out a whole shelf because you think you'll be locked down for months on end.
Also, while organizing supplies, don’t forget to check what you may already have in your pantry...you may already have quite a bit. Focus on what you need. Don’t stress about waiting in insane lines. Go when you can. Plan for a couple weeks. Have food set aside that you don’t touch unless you need it, and then continue to shop like normal for your everyday life until you are no longer able to do so.
Some of our staples include: Water, bread, peanut butter, frozen vegetables, pasta, pasta sauce, canned tomatoes, canned beans, soups, ramen, eggs, and meat that I can freeze and pull out when needed. Be smart, be wise, but don’t panic.
As far as what to do during lock down...I have been doing all the projects that I never got around too. I painted patio furniture, reorganized closets, made huge donation piles and the list keeps going. If you know there is something you might want to work on, buy paint, wood or supplies before the stores close. I wish I would have made a more thorough project list and purchased the corresponding supplies to help occupy some of this home time.
As far as what to do with the kids, there are a number of FB pages popping up with mom support groups for interesting and creative ways to entertain your kids during lock down.
Pinterest has tons of ideas too. I am not a home school mom by choice, but find myself doing what I can to embrace this new role. It is a little frustrating for me and even a little scary as my kid’s lessons are all in Italian. I’m having to do a little learning myself in order to help them understand their own subject matter.
All of this has been frustrating for all parties concerned, but we are moving forward and doing the best we can. That is honestly the only thing we can do. Warm weather is coming. Hopefully with its arrival, we will see the end of this virus. My thoughts and prayers are with you all as you face your own situations. Hang in there. You are not alone.
Kara Davenport has been a military spouse for 13 years and has lived through 5 deployments, the Defense Language Institute for Chinese, and 7 military moves (including China and Italy). She currently resides in Naples, Italy with her husband and two children where she enjoys her favorite pastimes - traveling, eating, and writing. She loves Dr. Pepper in the morning, and wine in the evening, and Jesus all Day.
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