Andrà Tutto Bene. It means – Everything is going to be ok. This has become the unofficial response from ordinary Italians to this nationwide and worldwide crisis. These homemade banners have been appearing everywhere.
As of today, we have officially been on nationwide lockdown for a week. These steps have been taken for several reasons. We know that we cannot simply stop the virus, but the hope is that it can be slowed dramatically. Up in the north, in the region of Lombardy in particular, the hospitals were getting close to collapse. The Corona Virus attacks the lungs, and in people with respiratory problems, or other immune system weaknesses, it does not just send them to the hospital, it sends them to the ICU, and the ICU cases rapidly progress to where a respirator is needed. There have been a few heartbreaking stories where doctors were faced with situations where they had more patients than respirators and there were none to be had from anywhere else. It turned into what they described as battlefield triage where they were forced to decide who would get access to the machines. (Side note, this story may have been the source for some disgusting tabloid garbage I have seen going about social media about Italy denying care to people over 65. This is a Catholic nation for heavens sake!!) So the lockdown is a last chance attempt to slow the spread to a manageable rate, and also to try and stop it from racing down to the south of Italy where the percentage of older people is much much higher than in the north and the hospitals are not as well equipped.
How are the Italians reacting to this? Frankly, I am incredibly proud of the country I am now calling home. Overwhelmingly people have taken this calmly. It is kind of spooking seeing the streets so empty though. There has been no panic buying like in the United States. The stores are fully stocked.
I took this photo in the local supermarket, the toilet paper isle. They only let a certain number of people into the store at one time. We line up outside and the security guy sends us in groups of two or three. I waited about ten minutes to get in. The store had maybe about a third of the normal amount of people usually in it.
This is the produce section. Hard to see, but maybe a dozen people total were in this section. Knowing that there are no shortages in the stores goes a long way to reassure people that they don’t need to panic or horde. Plus there seems to be more of a ‘us’, mentality in Europe than there is in America where so many of the posts seem focused on people taking a how does this affect ‘me’ mentality.
The Italians have faced this crisis with resilience and defiance. A week ago there was a nationwide movement to all go to our balconies and play music or sing. All over Italy people came to their balconies to say and sing in unison. “Yes, we are still here!”
The rest of the world seems to be about three weeks behind Italy for some reason, Perhaps it is the amount of tourism. The measure of a people is not how they behave in the best of times, but how they deal with the worst of times.