Originally published on Nextdoor Whittier, Monday, March 16. Reprinted with permission.
Friends of Whittier,
A heartfelt PSA directed at the United States, but definitely for all ears… I just got back from Italy and Spain and saw first-hand how things escalated from ‘staying home is a suggestion’ to ‘stay home or you may be arrested’, and this happened over a period of two to three weeks.
The virus wasn’t handled properly by the Italian government from the beginning and they’ve obviously had to take drastic measures to slow down the spread. But honestly, the situation was compounded by a lack of cooperation and/or understanding from the residents.
We had a movement going in Italy, asking people to keep going out and supporting local businesses, feeling that the government was overreacting, but in hindsight this was not a great plan. It just prolonged the inevitable. By staying out, people unknowingly transmitted the virus in great numbers to their neighbors and loved ones.
We would have hoped that other countries would have learned from Italy getting blind-sided by this, but sadly most of us aren’t paying attention. In Barcelona last week, it was ‘business as usual’ as far as people partying in restaurants and bars. Now places are closed, and Spain is the #2 virus hot spot behind Italy.
Having owned restaurants and bars myself, knowing the blood, sweat, and tears that goes into it, it breaks my heart to say this, but I plead with everyone in the U.S., as difficult as it may be, as much as it all possible, cut back on going out, go out when it’s a necessity… support by getting take-out or delivery and tipping. Support by buying gift certificates…. our friends and accounts know that we care for them, and they shouldn’t want us to risk our health or the health of others, in order to spend our money at their establishments.
I guarantee you, the only reason our numbers in the U.S. seem low is because people are not being tested. And keeping our numbers looking low is, I’m sure, by government design. There are people in this country who not only feel like they might be infected, they have absolutely no clue what to do, and it’s likely they can’t get tested because they haven’t traveled to a high-risk area. It’s infuriating that a country like the U.S. doesn’t have state-of-the art protocols in place for something exactly like this. It’s infuriating that I came through LAX without being asked a single question… I’m self-isolating now, but shouldn’t someone have suggested that, for heaven’s sake?
I’m certainly not one to incite panic, as I was one of the first ones to assume this whole thing was blown way out of proportion, but it wouldn’t sit well with me not to share what I experienced first-hand, and what I’m hearing daily from abroad… friends in Asia and Italy asking me, ‘Why is no-one taking action, don’t they see what happened to us??’
Our economy is in for a rough ride, and we’ve got to come together to brainstorm ways to help those who are or will soon be out of work, or even worse, who will get sick and (like so many of us) won’t have health insurance to pay for treatment… If anyone is up for serious discussions on how we can support each other in these times in a major way, please don’t hesitate to contact me. We need to start now, we’re already a month or more behind…