Dear American friends: The situation in Italy and in Lombardy is getting a little better. As of today in Lombardy, there have been “only” 12,500 deaths; in Italy a little more than 23,000. Lombardy and New York are completely different according to policies and the approach to this emergency, but the number of dead people is similar.
Many hospitals in Lombardy have closed their Covid-19 units. We have seen more and more musical tributes thanking doctors and nurses; for example, there is this violin solo concert on the Cremona hospital roof, where actually there are still many patients:
Lombardy, Veneto, Piedmont, Liguria and Emilia Romagna are the most productive regions in the country; the governors are fighting to allow the resumption of work activities and re-establishment free movement of goods and persons. The Chinese virus has affected the rest of Italy less than this region, but the central government does not want to admit the necessity of different reactions to the emergency and the specific needs of Northern Italy; this just adds insult to injury. The virus has especially affected especially old people in residential or nursing homes all around Europe, from Sweden to Belgium, from UK to Italy, and many of them have died.
The EU is on the verge of collapse. Poland and Hungary are two scapegoats: but contrary to the criticism against those countries—that they are acting selfishly and without solidarity—really the countries that are behaving this way are the Netherlands, Germany, Finland, Luxemburg and Austria. The danger of populism is leading to reactions against the same countries that have promoted it; egoism has affected the paladins of “European democratic centralism’.
The Italian people, and especially the people of Lombardy, love concrete actions, solidarity, and care for others, including the care of souls, especially for old and infirm people. But, we are still not allowed to take part in religious services. One brave priest in Lombardy celebrated Mass with the participation of a dozen of the relatives of the Covid victims in his town in spite of these restrictions: Don Lino Viola was conscious of the sanctions he might received, and slammed police who broke up the Mass.
We need to follow this example of courage to take care of souls even if it means we can be punished under the emergency laws. In my own family, we have experienced such courage: Covid-19 has hit close to home. My brother’s wife is a doctor in a nursing home and contracted the virus from one of the 40 old people there.
She was aware of this possibility, but it was important for her to stay with the elderly residents in the home and not leave them alone. For now, Nicoletta is well, and we her family are getting by also. We leave everything in God’s hands, with trust and hope.