In 2015, I was hospitalized in Italy for a week. The care was excellent, and in Italy everyone can get the care they need under the national health system. Italy is the epicenter in Europe of the COVID-19 epidemic. They are doing everything possible to strangle the spread of the virus, including closure of everything except essential services. You are not allowed to go next door to visit your neighbor. You cannot travel by car or train without a very good reason. In spite of the difficulties, my Italian friends say everyone is cooperating. Everyone is pulling together, as Americans will also do.

Early on, China made mistakes and Italy made mistakes, just as we are doing; we do not have enough test kits. Testing is important to pinpoint where the cases are and where efforts need to be concentrated. As of March 14, according to Italian Civil Defense, there were 21,157 people positive for coronavirus and 1,441 deaths. That’s a 6.8% death rate. Even if we say that there may be another 20,000 people with the virus in Italy who haven’t been tested and counted, that’s still a 3.5 % death rate. Death rate from the flu is 0.1%.

So, if you haven’t been taking this seriously, time to do so. Go to the CDC website to educate yourself and get your questions answered. Regarding my personal safety, I’m more worried about what you’re doing than what the virus is doing. So please, wash your hands and stay home if you can.

David P. Frasz, M.D.


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