Week two locked down in Italy

Week two locked down in Italy

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020

As probably everyone knows Italy is on a countrywide lockdown. Supermarkets, pharmacies are open as are tobacco shops (we don’t want rioting in the streets). The last time that I went out for a walk was last Friday, 5 days ago. I didn’t realize it at the time but that walk was actually illegal. Now apparently the various police forces are stopping anyone they find walking around and ask them where they are going and why. You risk a fine at minimum if you can’t show a real need to be out.

Two days ago I went to the local supermarket. I went at about 11:30 thinking that there wouldn’t be many people there and besides there is a guard in front of the place that is limiting entry so that seemed safe. But frankly the guard wasn’t really doing a great job. There were at least 50 people in the store and while it is a pretty good size market, especially for the center of Bologna, there were definitely too many people for my taste. Anyway I had taken my little carello and a small backpack because I wanted to buy a bunch of stuff. The carello is one of those things that you see people using in cities where they either go on foot or using public transportation. Mine is like the one below but I think prettier.

IKEA KNALLA Carrello della spesa
Ikea Carello Spesa (grocery shopping cart)

In any case I tried to keep a distance of over a meter from everyone in the store which was pretty easy because everyone else wanted to maintain that distance. I filled up both the cart and backpack to overflowing with all of the necessities; beer, wine, chocolate and also some food. I then used the self checkout and paid with my bancomat card (debit card) using Applepay on my phone to avoid touching things as much as possible. I was relieved to get back home and thoroughly washed my hands before doing anything else.

The city is absolutely deserted. I commented to one of my friends here that even the pigeons were either absent or inactive – that’s a very unusual thing in any city. I guess that they are highly dependent on the population to leave a trail of edible stuff for them. Despite all of this spirits are good although it is stressful being sort of under house arrest. I’ve exchanged messages with friends here and also called them with WhatsApp; it’s free and you can also have a video call.

There is a little light at the end of the tunnel. The rate of new infections in the last two days has fallen. Here’s the graph. First let’s start with the scary graph. Keep in mind that this is only 4 weeks.

The number of identified cases have gone from 20 on February 22 to over 31,000 today (March 18). Keep in mind that many of these cases had either no or mild symptoms. Severe restrictions were mandated just over a week ago countrywide and few days earlier in the “red zone” of highly infected areas – especially Lombardia where Milano and Bergamo are located. It looks like we’re starting to see some positive results.

Rate of infection increases

The % of new infections has started going down in the last 5 days and the last two are at 13%. The average during the last 4 weeks has been at about 30%. The date at the start of the graph is suspect because as of the 22nd of February there were only 20 identified cases in all of Italy so the first 3 or 4 days the data was not very good. The current prediction is that the number of infections will peak by Sunday. After that the number of currently infected, that is the total infected minus those who have recovered or, unfortunately, died will start to go down. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

That’s enough for now. This post is getting pretty long but I will have more to say tomorrow so stay tuned. If anyone would like to talk via WhatsApp, leave a comment. Please do not leave a phone number on any public site, I can email you and we can exchange phone numbers.

2 Responses to “Week two locked down in Italy”

  1. Peter Hillen Says:

    Hi Joe, Glad to hear you are doing OK. We are also sheltering-in-place. Our son Scott has moved in with us because San Jose State has closed (gone on-line) and want students to leave. I am using the time at home to do projects that I have put off for decades – like sorting boxes of old photos and things like that. The supermarkets here has started having senior hours in the morning – which has made it easier to get out and get food. We tried Whole foods home delivery. It was both funny and scary. About an hour before the scheduled deliver (which was 2 days after the order), we started getting text messages asking if they could substitute various items. Some were reasonable, some absolutely off the mark. When the delivery arrived there was a bunch of stuff we didn’t order. We have plenty of vino and coffee, so I guess we are OK. Stay safe.

  2. Joe Says:

    Hi Peter, well at least you have two of the major food groups. It’s certainly trying. I really wish that I could be with Laura now. BTW we could talk on the phone (also with video) if you had WhatsApp on your phone. I’ve got a lot of time to fill.


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