Leca Good, a native of Washington, Kan., living in Vicenza, Italy, advises Americans to “stay home, stay home, stay home. Learn from Italy.”
The European country has been one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
“There is no end in sight, and I just keep watching my home country make mistake after mistake with this,” Good said. “Slow down the crazy train and the panic, and focus on facts.
“There is no need to panic. But also be aware that three weeks ago I would never have imagined the situation in which we now live here in Italy.”
Good and her husband, Brian, have lived in Italy 2 1/2 years. Brian is a Department of Defense civilian firefighter/emergency medical technician on the Caserma Ederle Post in Vicenza. Leca is a substitute teacher at Vicenza High School on the military post. On Friday there were confirmed cases on the post, and she feels her husband is in danger.
Life in Italy went from normal in a vibrant, tourist-oriented country to empty streets, shuttered businesses, police checkpoints and a health care system stressed to breaking, Good said.
“I know it is absolutely hard for Americans to imagine giving up our right to free movement,” she said. "The canceled basketball playoffs, sporting events, concerts, school cancellations and spring break vacations are just a blip on the radar for what some people will face. People are more important than those things, at least they are to me.”
The length of time the virus is in the United States depends on how people react, she said.
“It all depends if people isolate or not,” Good said. “Consider that you are doing the very best thing for your own family, friends and coworkers and being a responsible human by staying home and avoiding contact. This should be your own common-sense decision and choice. It's the right thing.”
Slowing down the new cases and spread is a critical way to help health care response and to help the economy stabilize, she said.
“Don’t panic-buy and clear out the shelves,” she said. “Allow basic schedules of restocking to happen so everyone can have soap, toilet paper, milk, bread and other necessities. Be prepared for possibly 30 days of hunkering down at home and avoiding other people, outside those who live in your house.”
Good suggested stocking up on craft supplies, puzzles for kids, new books, ingredients for a new recipe. People also can clean out the garage.
“There are 100 things we can all do with a few extra days or weeks at home to focus on family and home life,” she said. “Mainly, keep calm, but please take this seriously.”
As of Monday, March 23, there were 6,077 deaths from coronavirus in Italy.
“Word has it, even more restrictions may come,” Good said. “Over the weekend, 47,000 people were fined for being outside without good reason.”
The Lombardy region is almost at capacity in their hospitals, she said.
“They won’t be able to help sick people. The health care system has collapsed. Doctors are now having to choose which patients have a fighting chance of survival and save them over others. Doctors are dying from exposure.”
She said some people in the United States think the virus will clear up in a week.
“You have no idea,” Good said. “I’ve told my story to some already, but here it is to share for all to understand how quickly this all happened.”
At first, she said, people thought they would be fine, but then the number of cases grew, and school was canceled for a week.
“Social distancing became the new phrase, and still we thought, ‘Oh, it’s just in Lombardy, it’ll be OK. Then it hit 25 minutes away, and Padova became a new cell of cases. School canceled another week.
“Then it was extra groceries — reasonable purchasing not panic buying, to make sure we were OK, just in case,” Good said.
School was canceled again, this time until April 3. Now, the only reasons people can leave their homes is for groceries, work, medical reasons, to go to the post office and laundry.
“And soon some of those will be taken away,” she said.
Good said on Thursday the number of deaths in Italy is down, but cases are up.
“I’m praying for you, as I hope you will pray for all of us in Italy,” she said.
Good is the former Leca McCarty. She was a substitute teacher in the Marysville school district for more than 10 years.
The Goods’ son, Logan, lives in Washington. Their daughter, Samantha Bruna, and her husband, Nathan, and their children, Calvin and Alivia, live in Hanover. Good said they all visited Italy from Feb. 9-19. None of them got sick and are doing fine, Good said.