SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – As cases of COVID-19 continue to increase in the United States, many European countries have tens of thousands of positive cases and thousands of deaths from the virus.
At the European epicenter
Giuliana Pascale is currently studying for her master’s in publishing at a university in Sapri, which is in southern Italy.
She has been under quarantine for 15 days now with her family. Her university has turned to online instruction and her city now mandates rationed shopping days based on someone’s last name.
Pascale says she never expected this to happen when cases first began popping up in Milan. Only a few weeks later, however, the death toll is over 6,000 people, the highest in the world.
“You have to bring a paper with you,” explains Pascale, “that certifies you’re going out for this particular reason. And you have to sign it.”
Lying about your reason for leaving could result in thousands of euros in fines.
Pascales says because of that, she doesn’t feel the need to leave the house, other than to help her mother get groceries.
“It’s what we have to do in respect of, you know, the doctors and nurses and people that are working for us right now,” said Pascale. “So, that’s why I’m making these sacrifices, for them too.”
Pascale’s sister currently lives in Manhattan and is studying for another medical degree. She says her sister may be one of the ones helping care for those who are sick in New York.
Whether you’re looking at the outbreak with an American or European perspective, she says what’s most important is to recognize the danger the virus presents to everyone.
“We can’t say that it’s not dangerous anymore,” said Pascale. “There are numbers of people that are dying so it’s a reality.”
‘Learn from the mistakes of others’
The national quarantine in Spain also started about two weeks ago.
Before it began, Andrea Machado Allende worked for a local newspaper through a fellowship program while Natalia Méndez Suárez studied languages at the University of Oviedo in Spain.
Now, the fellowship has since been postponed and classes have moved online as Spain surpasses China in deaths from the virus and the quarantine continues.
“The government says it will last until about April 11,” said Machado Allende. “But in the beginning, there were still bars, sidrerías, and restaurants that were still open.”
The two say many people did not adhere to the recommendations of public health officials because they did not anticipate such a widespread outbreak as they’re seeing right now.
Much like in Italy, Spaniards are only allowed to leave to get groceries, go to the bank or go to the pharmacy.
Both say the situation will only get better if people make the sacrifice to stay home.
“The only difference between Spain and the United States is that Spain is ahead in terms of the situation,” said Méndez Suárez. “I believe the best thing to do is learn from the mistakes that others have committed.”
Listen to the full interview in Spanish here.