I’m proud of you Italy


I’m proud of you Italy

Thursday, March 12th, 2020

It is a common (and true) conception that Italians are furbi. “Furbo” is an Italian word that is a little difficult to translate but it mostly means “clever” often in a good way but sometimes it’s negative. Many years ago, in the 80s, on my very first time in Italy on a business trip I was in a car with an Italian sales representative and saw a driver stop briefly for a red light and then continue across the intersection. My driver explained that many Italians viewed a red light as a “suggestion”, being furbo means finding a way around the endless rules here. So when the Italian premier, Conte, addressed the nation when imposing severe travel restrictions to and from the Red Zones at the time (now it is all of Italy) he apparently said don’t be “furbi”, ie, don’t evade the restrictions. There were some but not many that did at that time. When he later instituted the sweeping restrictions on March 10th for the whole of Italy, there was almost a miraculous transformation. People rose to the occasion. And also the various police agencies made it clear that they would enforce the rules when necessary. Everyone realized that the reason for such restrictions were absolutely necessary to stop the rapid spread of the virus. The buses were half full at most, stores were generally empty and few people in bars, restaurants and in the gym. Then came further restrictions with today’s announcement that only pharmacies, grocery stores and banks would be open for business. The banks actually will pretty much remain closed for walk-in customer (they were already significantly restricted).

I did a little spreadsheet and found that if the same rate of increase of infected people continued at the same rate (about 20% per day), then the number here yesterday, 10,000, would become 383,000 after 3 weeks and 1,373,000 after the 4th week. That’s a pretty sobering calculation given that probably about 2% of those numbers are expected to die.

So I lift a glass of prosecco to the citizens of my adopted country.

I am doing my part. I’m pretty much holed up in my apartment. Yesterday I went to the nearby supermarket when it was not very busy and bought a bunch of stuff to add to my pantry so that I should easily be able to avoid shopping for about 10 days. The next time that I do go I’ll probably go as soon as it opens (I think at 8:30) to avoid as much as possible any contact with others. Of course I’m also doing this to avoid getting sick. While I’m strong and healthy I’m still in the demographic more at risk.

I foresee similar restrictions happening in the U.S. since they don’t seem to be doing a great job right now with limiting the spread of the virus.

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