When the news broke of the virus rapidly spreading throughout Italy and how quarantine rules were being imposed I immediately wished I was back home. With family, friends, in the country I know and have always felt that their rules and regulations would be the best place to be during a crisis. After all, living in Italy for over 4 years I have been driven absolutely insane by most government entities when trying to get paperwork done. My daughter still doesn’t have an Italian passport because of the 101 steps that need to be taken for that to happen.
However, I have been truly surprised with the developing events of the past weeks and now that the virus has reached home I am heartbroken to see how a country under economic stress, with an aging population and highly dependent on tourism still manages to take better care of their citizens than the so called American super power.
Seeing the news unfold day by day here and seeing the government's response, versus keeping up with the news back home it is a gloomy situation.
A few things the Italian government has passed to help out it’s CITIZENS:
1. Rent payments are being frozen
2. Suspension of all Mortgage payments
3. 600 Euros a month will be given to parents who work and have to keep children at home
4. Basic bills such as water, light etc are being placed on hold
There are of course budget plans to help out small, medium and large corporations.
The health care system has also responded incredibly fast by aggressively testing (for free I might add) everyone and anyone. The US with a clear advantage and time on their hands decided to ignore the warnings and are of course now scrambling. I hear of friends with actual symptoms not being able to get tested as there aren’t even enough tests available.
It is an irony that when I’d speak about Medicare for all or discuss how the healthcare in the US needs change, many would aggressively defend it saying how other countries have long period waits for medical care, giving examples of Canada and Europe and we are all just crazy. Now, sadly their first class health system is proving to be the exact opposite. This is what happens when greed rules people’s health. I can’t even begin to imagine what it will be like for undocumented, uninsured and others to try and get tested or any care.
People here are of course worried they’ll get sick, they are angry at the delay response from the government that has more problems than I can begin to list. But no one is scared they won’t be able to pay rent, no one is scared they will go bankrupt if they get sick from the mountain of medical bills, no one is scared their electricity will be cut off if they don’t pay the bills. Italians know that they’ll get through these hard times because the government will do its part. Not because it is a particularly great, generous, or even functional government most of the time, but because that is what governments ARE SUPPOSED TO DO.
As citizen's concerns I am sure we will hear heartwarming and helpful stories in both countries. I truly believe humans are good to the core and when we see our friends and neighbors in need we will help. However, in the sense of caring for the “unknown neighbor” aka, the person coming after me in the supermarket or pharmacy it is a sad sad comparison. Supermarkets although emptier are still stocked in Italy. There is toilet paper, water and basics. There are fruits, vegetables, pasta and not ONE fight has broken out over the last piece of something. Tense moments have of course occurred and racism is of course a harsh, sad reality. However, I daily hear of physical fights in the American supermarkets as well as hear stories from friends and family that they are simply not finding even basic necessities in the stores. Considering the enormous supermarkets there are in the US, even in the smaller cities, let alone walgreens, CVS etc… HOW did it become that extreme? How are the shelves empty? Plain greed and panic.
The smallest Walgreens back in Phoenix is larger than the biggest supermarket in the city we live in…. Still people take what they need for the week or so and go home.
I have no confidence that the U.S. will do what is right during and after this pandemic. If past crises have shown us that it tends to be the big corporations and banks are the one’s being bailed out. Not the people.
The virus might not see race, color or economical stature but when you are being told either you come to work or you are fired and there are no laws in place to protect your health it is clear who will be affected the most.
So as it has been recommended around, let’s support each other and our small community businesses. Buy gift cards from not only your local small restaurants but also your hairdresser, your nail lady, your local shops. Let’s help combat this greed and show the world how even though the government might not have your back we will have each other’s!