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To the Coronavirus Naysayers Who Are Not Afraid

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To the Coronavirus Naysayers Who Are Not Afraid

Can you imagine how scared I am right now? I am on lockdown in the north of Italy, in the midst of the coronavirus epidemic. The local hospital of my city, Cremona, is the closest one to the epicenter of the outbreak and it’s been on the frontline of the battle against COVID-19 since the day they found “Patient One”, on February 21st.

In my province alone, we now have over 1,500 positive cases and our hospital has been completely converted to treat this disease. Surgeries have been cancelled, most departments have been transformed into infectious disease units, and our medical staff is working tireless 14 hour shifts to assist all the patients. I know many doctors and nurses who work there, and they are not afraid to confess that they are scared too. Actually, they are “terrorized”, to use the word I hear the most from them. And yet, they have to wake up every day, wear the little protective gear they have left, walk into a hospital with over 500 patients affected by coronavirus, and turn away those with the least chances of survival.

coronavirus ICU in Italy

The hospital of Cremona needs all the help it can get! Please, consider giving up your morning coffee today and DONATE TO THE FUNDRAISER they organized to buy more medical equipment and assist more patients!

What I know about fear though is that it’s a necessary feeling. Healthy, even. It’s that emotion that pushes us to react in front of a threat, using the tools we have at our disposal to defend ourselves. Being afraid of coronavirus is a good thing. It’s only when we all understand how grave the consequences of an outbreak are on our health care system that we can start to react properly. In the case of coronavirus, the best tool we have to protect against it and help contain the epidemic is to isolate, stay at home and help others understand they need to do the same.

On March 11th, the Italian Government put my entire country on lockdown and implemented very strict measures to enforce the quarantine rules. All stores are shut down except for pharmacies and supermarkets, and people are only allowed to leave their house for medical emergencies, to buy food (if they can’t shop online) or for selective work related reasons (if they work for factories that were allowed to remain open).

Now, you would think that because we put these measures in place, we are less scared. That’s not true. How could we not be with the numbers of deaths and positive cases rising every day? We do want to believe that we’ll get through this and people even started a positive thinking movement called #tuttoandrábene, (everything is gonna be ok), sharing encouraging and uplifting messages of hope from their balconies and windows. But this doesn’t change the fact that we are scared.

Some of us are more afraid than others. Some are preoccupied for their elderly. Some for their loved ones who are immunodeficient, have pre-existing conditions or are trying to beat cancer. Others are simply afraid of needing urgent care for an emergency and not being able to receive proper treatment because the hospitals are overflowing with COVID-19 patients.

There are still some people though, who are sadly convinced they look cool and brave by stating that they are “not afraid of the virus”. They minimize the risks of this pandemic out of ignorance. And because they are too selfish to give up the comforts and pleasures of their normal life, they infringe the quarantine laws. They go play basketball in the parks or sneak out to go have dinner at their friend’s house.

The self-centered attitude of the naysayers is a threat as big as that of the epidemic. Because not only do they put others in danger by potentially spreading the virus around (as you know, COVID-19 is massively contagious and can be transmitted even by people who carry it in an asymptomatic way), but they also compromise all the efforts patiently made by all of us who are abiding by the rules.

By committing these petty infractions, they also waste the precious time and resources of our police force, who have too much on their plate right now. And in case things don’t go as they planned and they do contract coronavirus themselves, they’ll put even a bigger strain on our health care system and on our doctors and nurses (12% of those infected), who sacrifice their own health every single day to care for our entire country.

Not to mention that if they end up needing intensive care, they’ll occupy a bed and a mechanical ventilator that could have been otherwise dedicated to somebody who was rightfully scared of this virus and did everything they could to prevent contagion.

Another common argument that I hear from those who “are not afraid of the virus” is that the majority of those who die are the elderly or have preexisting conditions.

Despite the fact that many young, healthy adults have been intubated in an ICU for weeks now, since when has the right to live of an elderly or ill person become discretionary? And isn’t it our responsibility to defend the weakest members of our society?

Some could argue that, in the name of individual freedom, people have the right to evaluate danger according to their own thinking and decide whether they want to sacrifice their liberty of movement or not.

Unfortunately, this type of “individual freedom” could only be granted if one was alone in this world. But we are not. And by claiming we are “not afraid of COVID-19” and dismissing danger sweeping the evidence of what’s happening in our hospitals under the rug, we simply violate other people’s freedom.

My Nonno and I many years ago copy

When I was growing up, my grandpa, a partisan who fought against the Fascist regime during WWII, used to tell me: “Ricordati, la libertà di una persona finisce quando va a ledere quella di un’altra” – “Remember, one’s personal freedom ends when it starts harming somebody else’s”.

His words sound truer than ever today. In the midst of a pandemic, where 1 person infects 2.5 people, the single decisions of each individual affect the entire community exponentially.

Whether we are afraid of coronavirus or not, we all have a responsibility towards the people around us, because they do have the right to protect themselves, try to limit the contagion and live in a safe society where the health of the masses is not at stake.

Afraid or not, we all need to self-isolate and stay at home as much possible. We need to respect the collective efforts of our nation, and we can’t afford to take the risk of jeopardizing everyone else’s sacrifices.

They say in China it was easier to enforce quarantine rules because their government has a greater authority. I can’t comment on that, I have never even been to China.

But I know Italy well, and I know first-hand how much our grandparents sacrificed to make this country a democracy.

Today, we need to own up to that name. Because if we really want to call ourselves a democratic society, one where people have freedom and equality, then we need to stop being selfish and start caring for others.

It’s not a matter of rules. It’s a matter of ethics.


If you liked this article, share it with as many people as you can. Especially to the naysayers. We all have one in our family, or in our circle of friends and hopefully these words will open their eyes and make them see the reality that they need to start facing!

And you want to know my reflections on the First Month of Quarantine in the North of Italy, check out this article!

Sharing is caring!

Ambra Torelli
Born and raised in Italy, Ambra visited over 20 countries and now she divides her time in between Italy and the US, where her husband is from and where she moved in 2011 work as university professor of Italian Literature. She writes about food, travel and things that inspire her! more about ambra

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  • Avatar
    Leila March 15, 2020 11:36 am

    A very poignant article full of authenticity and compassion! Continuing to send you positive energy!❤️

    • ambra
      ambra March 17, 2020 3:05 am

      Thanks so much Leila. It means a lot!

  • Avatar
    Christine March 15, 2020 11:44 am

    This is one of the best articles I have read amidst the chaos, lack of chaos, and all the weird in between. I have been following your journey and it’s put me in a comfort with recognizing how severe this is, but also keeping calm and just doing what is right for us as a collective. Thank you thank you thank you for this! Please keep sharing!

    • ambra
      ambra March 17, 2020 3:06 am

      Wow! I am so happy this resonated with you! Thanks so much for the lovely words!

  • Avatar
    Jasmine March 15, 2020 12:15 pm

    I’ve been following along your journey for the last few weeks from Ontario, Canada. Loved this article. Thank you for addressing this and sharing what it’s like so that our country (and others) can be more informed. In the past 3 days the fear has really kicked in here in Canada and I think that’s a good thing! Mostly Everyone has stocked up where I am and it’s staying home.

    Best wishes to you ❤️ and keep sharing you are making a difference!

    • ambra
      ambra March 17, 2020 3:22 am

      Thanks so much for the love Jasmine. You support means so much to me!

  • Avatar
    Terry March 15, 2020 4:23 pm

    I loved the message on your blog! 🌺So well stated. So very true. People need to understand the seriousness. The hospital situation scares me. My sweet daughter is a nurse. Things are changing in her hospital. Locked entry doors. Guard at main door. No visitors any more unless to visit smone dying or nic u babies. Then only 1 visitor. She heard only a few cases at her hospital but knows it will grow. She is trying to stay strong but I know is very scared. I am staying at my home now until things pass over. I can go outside for walk or go to park for walk but will not go to any stores.

    • ambra
      ambra March 17, 2020 3:24 am

      Thanks so much Terry. This is a beautiful message!

  • Avatar
    Annika Schimmer March 15, 2020 8:09 pm

    Ambra, what a great article! Thank you for sharing everything that is happening in Italy with us. You would think people over here would learn from it….but unfortunately, a lot of people are not taking it seriously enough. Sending you so much love <3

    • ambra
      ambra March 17, 2020 3:25 am

      Thanks so much Annika for helping me raise awareness. The earlier people take this seriously the sooner it will be over!

  • Avatar
    Alec March 16, 2020 3:15 am

    Great article, I’m so proud of you for raising awareness in such an enlightening way!

    • ambra
      ambra March 17, 2020 3:27 am

      Grazie mille!!

  • Avatar
    Sylph March 16, 2020 9:13 am

    Thank you so much for this article and all you have published on this subject, Ambra. Our country is going into lockdown tomorrow, so this is a timely post for me. Love and prayers for you and your family and actually for all of humanity.

    • ambra
      ambra March 17, 2020 3:26 am

      I agree with you Sylph! Doesn’t it feel like the world is telling us something?

  • Avatar
    Mary Robinson March 16, 2020 11:23 am

    Beautifully expressed. I shared with all of my Facebook friends with this quote, which I thought was so meaningful: “Ricordati, la libertà di una persona finisce quando va a ledere quella di un’altra” – “Remember, one’s personal freedom ends when it starts harming somebody else’s”.

    • ambra
      ambra March 17, 2020 3:29 am

      Thanks so much for helping me spread this Mary! We need people to understand this is serious and behave accordingly so we can contain the damage!

  • Avatar
    Anouk March 16, 2020 1:38 pm

    Thank you for this! We are all connected! Nobody is an island.

    • ambra
      ambra March 17, 2020 3:28 am

      Thank you for reading Anouk! We are all in this together!

  • Avatar
    AJ March 16, 2020 2:34 pm

    Thankyou for sharing!

    When I was growing up, my grandpa, a partisan who fought against the Fascist regime during WWII, used to tell me: “Ricordati, la libertà di una persona finisce quando va a ledere quella di un’altra” – “Remember, one’s personal freedom ends when it starts harming somebody else’s”.

    • ambra
      ambra March 17, 2020 3:27 am

      So happy you loved my grandpa’s quote! It means a lot!!

  • Avatar
    Isa March 19, 2020 4:33 am

    There’s all kind of people in this world…. and we can’t help it… Thanks for being there sharing all so much with us!🙏🏻

  • Avatar
    Sam March 19, 2020 4:36 am

    Just went through your article Ambra. Its a MASTER-PIECE. I mean you’ve literally preserved the situation & your feelings which also portray the feelings of everyone there in that piece of writing. Amazing job Ambra. This COVID crisis would pass anyway but that article would help us remember the social & psychological agony through which almost everyone in general, & the Italians in particular had to pass.
    Marvellous job Ambra. 👏👏👏

  • Avatar
    Mariela March 19, 2020 4:37 am

    This is so scary and sad.
    I wish people would understand the gravity of this situation. I’m really scared so that’s why I’m staying at home 💕sending you love and hugs

  • Avatar
    Peta R. March 19, 2020 4:38 am

    Thank you for being a clear, reasonable and responsible voice in all this. I’ve found your updates throughout all this very welcoming and informative. I’ve shared, and will continue to help in ways that I am able to to try to get the message across.
    (It doesnt seem to be working her in Aus though 😫). 💖

  • Avatar
    Nancy L.V. March 19, 2020 4:39 am

    Your words ring very true. Our parents( your grandparents) gave up many comforts too sure the freedoms they won for us. I see selfish hoarding in the US and wonder if these people ever think that their self service infringes on the wellbeing of others. Thank you and God bless you and your family and keep them safe and healthy.

  • Avatar
    Leann Banet March 21, 2020 9:32 am

    I love this article Ambra. It’s So informative and well written. The Long-Term Care center where I am employed in the U.S. is on lock down too with only essential personnel on site. I frequently hear of naysayers though, and I feel by sharing your article, it will help them understand and change their erroneous behaviours and become more socially responsible. Thank you for being a calm voice of reason amongst so much chaos. Stay well and keep writing!!

  • Avatar
    Marlane April 3, 2020 9:12 am

    Wonderful and not controversial at all! Well stated;) I have always said like your grandfather… you do have the right to do whatever you like … As long as it soes not disturb others’ rights! Thanks for your articles and thinking of all of you in Italy. Love the caring and uplifting of others;)

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