Today I watched the press conference with Mayor Andrew Cuomo of New York. For the most part, I saw his understanding of the situation to be so much clearer and more concisely stated than the Federal Government’s. I do have one beef that I’ll state up-front. I know when US officials say “we don’t want to be like Italy”, they really mean that they see our plight, and would love to avoid some of the consequences of not acting as quickly as you can. However, in reality, outside of maybe China, which is an AUTHORITARIAN country, Italy has actually done one of the best jobs (pretty stellar)! I know that what they mean is that they would like to avoid the outcomes we’ve had in Italy, but they way it is said is highly offensive to me, because I think Italy has really taken the lead in understanding how serious this situation is, and has taken extraordinary, exemplary action in this crisis. You DO want to be like Italy when it comes to your dedication to stopping this virus. You just want to act more quickly, take lessons from what we’ve learned, and try to avoid some of the dire consequences of not acting quickly enough!
Okay – with that off my chest, let’s continue.
The US is ALMOST getting it. Schools are closing, my extended family’s cinema closed before it had to, States are shutting down restaurants, etc. However, you are not forcing people to stay at home. Curfews, early closing of stores, and limiting “gatherings” to 50 people is not enough (okay – just reduced to 10 – and still not quite right). Italy realized that. If you don’t want to “be like Italy”, then take head to our admonition that if you are going to shut everything down, and tell everyone to stay at home, you CANNOT DO THIS TOO SOON! Italy realizes now that just telling certain regions (States in the US analogy) that they were essentially in quarantine did nothing but delay the inevitable. It took Italy almost a month to realize that EVERYONE that had a non-essential job needed to stay at home. Here are Italy’s definitions of “essential” jobs:
- Grocery stores, supermarkets, mini-marts, grocery discounts (unless they are very specialty shops – for example, in our town mushrooms are a local delicacy and do not fall into this category) – I’m not sure where Costco or a Super Walmart or Super Target would fit here.
- Frozen food companies (I imagine in the US this could include companies like Schwans)
- Computer supply companies (computer parts, toner, paper, ink is essential to modern life and commerce)
- tobacco shops – okay – yeah there isn’t really anything like this in the US – think almost like the convenience store at the gas station (although these are not attached to gas stations). They might have toiletries, some food, etc. but they also sell train and bus tickets, lotto tickets, etc.
- Gas stations
- Telecommunications companies (your cell phone providers, internet providers, etc.)
- Hardware, glass (window) and electrical and HVAC supply
- Personal care store (we have specific stores that have household cleaning, personal hygiene, and beauty products)
- Lighting companies
- Newspaper and magazine shops
- Pharmacies and drug stores
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Medical and orthopedic device companies
- Pet Supply stores
- Optical and photography stores
- Online stores
- Phone orders
- Catalog sales
- Any kind of vending machine
- Police/Civil services (police, fire, ambulance, city services such as trash pickup, etc.)
Also open are
- insurance companies
- laundry and dry cleaning stores
- funeral homes (although funerals are not allowed – no services other than immediate family at the grave site)
You need to STAY HOME. Don’t be complacent here. Don’t try to figure out a way to make SOME people suffer more than others. Shut it all down. You’re going to do that anyway, in a month, a couple a weeks, a few days from now. So just suck it up and do it NOW. That’s where you want to LEARN from Italy. Be proud to “be like Italy” – just do it faster!!!!