Update from Italy: Monday, March 9

Read on for my free Systems Check. Photo by Elijah Hiett on Unsplash

Day three of the nationwide school closure here.

Eleanor (age 5) can do this, and survive it. It is going to be a far more difficult enterprise for Victor (age 8), who is brimming with a crackling energy best expended in regular indoor soccer practices (twice a week) and panting games of tag at intervallo (recess). His teacher has been sending scanned homework via WhatsApp, which I am printing and proctoring for him. He does not love this idea of Home as Study Hall, but this is the reality we got, kid. Side note, he is very good at homework, but is also a bit of a drama queen and given to extravagant gestures in protest, such as throwing pens and sheets of paper. Eleanor asked to receive math homework, which she calmly completed at the dining room table with him, counting her sums on a handful of tiny dried conchiglie pasta bits. I carefully printed out the numbers 0-9 for her reference. Her seven is always backwards. I understand the feeling.

How am I coping? My professional work will be necessarily limited this week, as I look after these two hyenas at home. So I am watching the BBC’s “Henriad” from 2016, comprised of Shakespeare’s Henry VI – Part I, Henry VI – Part II, and Richard III. They are so good, so well-produced, and exactly the type of historic escapism demanded by our current situation. Man, you think we got problems now! The War of the Roses was the worst. Also, if you watch “Fleabag,” the Hot Priest does a nice turn as Louis VIII, plus the cast boasts a ton of other acting favorites, including Benedict Cummerbund, Lord Grantham, Sally Hawkins, and Judy Dench.

Overall, we are okay. I am concerned about Jason, who has been on Jason Alert Level 10 for over two straight weeks. Our kids are feeling hemmed in and penned in. I am a realist and believe this Italian situation is going to be tough until at least end of next month or even into May. I hope I am wrong, but my gut tells me otherwise. As a family we are happy to cooperate with any and all public health measures. I have gotten into disputes in Florence with people who think I am overreacting. I am shocked by the number of people who think this is somehow a hoax over a cold virus. Fortunately, those who are paying attention and responding appropriately are all now exhorted to limit our social interaction, giving me a fine excuse to crab-walk far, far away from the news toads. I cannot believe people won’t limit their movements, postponing vacations and flights they do not need to take, as though a temporary limitation is some abridgement of liberty. (FREEEEDOM!) I am floored by all the conferences and parties I am seeing in the US on social media.

Systems check. Do you live on Planet Earth (Y/N)? Are you a human (Y/N)? Then you are a possible Covid-19 carrier. Please, do the right thing. Self-limit. Update your Netflix queue, put a few extra items in your pantry, review your hand-washing skills. Consider that 40% to 70% of the planet is going to contract the virus this year, half of those will require hospitalization, and 10% of those will become seriously ill, requiring ICU care. Do the math on global ICU beds. Lombardy has one of the best medical systems in the world and it is stressed to capacity there. This is a hospital emergency. We are going to see unprecedented stress loads on hospitals and staff.

We’ll do our bit. Keep to ourselves, limit circulation and contact. Manage things like we do.

Stay tuned. This is a fluid, dynamic situation.