Today’s show is a personal story of why I canceled a trip to Italy today.
I was scheduled to fly to Italy today to attend a wedding in Rome. It’s a study of what can happen in times when there is a major civil disruption like the one caused by the current Covid-19 pandemic.
Italy is working hard to get the outbreak under control. Italy’s health care system is pretty strong by global standards. But it’s not perfect.
The number of cases continues to escalate with 51 new cases reported in the past 24 hours. Each one of these 51 new cases could have spread the virus to others. The average number of people infected by a carrier is estimated to be around 3. Each person infected, transmits the disease to three others. You can do the math. Unless the number of those subsequently infected can be brought below 1, the disease will continue to spread. In some cases, there are a few super-spreaders. There was the case of a woman in Korea who infected nearly 100 people at her church. That single carrier was largely responsible for the large scale outbreak in Korea. The lengthy asymptomatic incubation period is the greatest risk overall. People are spreading the disease who don’t know they have it. When you couple that with the cases where people are not being tested, and some number of tests that give erroneous results, we have the makings of a disease that will continue to multiply quickly.
I have many reasons to go to Italy this weekend. It was going to be a quick 3 day trip. It would be wonderful to see my cousins. I have an aunt who is 94 years old and experiencing some health issues. Any time you have the chance to spend quality time with someone in their 90’s, take it. When a member of the family get’s married, you can’t ask them to reschedule it. You can’t say, I’ll catch you on the next one. You either participate, or not.
So far, the region surrounding Rome has reported only 3 cases of Corona Virus. The vast majority of cases are in the North surrounding Milan. I also have family in Milan as well and I’m concerned for them. One of my family members is in her 90’s and not in great health. I have no doubt that they’ll be able to stay out of circulation for a period of time. But grocery store shelves have already been emptied. Getting food and basic supplies will be an issue in the near future.
This is a warning to those who are not prepared for how quickly a situation can change. Grocery stores can be well stocked one day, and then two days later be completely emptied.
It’s easy to rationalize that I’m going to be in a small group of people. It’s not a huge wedding, about 100 people. My risk is low. But still, people would be traveling from all over the world to attend. Who will be on the planes and trains of those 100 people attending the wedding? I have no idea who is catering the food. Several of the meals are scheduled for restaurants in central Rome. This area is frequented by tourists from all over the world on a daily basis.
I have no doubt that my direct flight to Rome would be pretty safe. There are no known cases of the disease in my community. What I can’t be certain of is the return flight.
We’ve seen travel bans being instituted from parts of Italy. It would be problematic for me to be stuck in Europe in a quarantine situation, or unable to return home because flights are cancelled all of a sudden.
Even back here at home, preparations are important. We have no known cases in our city yet. We’ve been stocking up on food. As of now we easily have a month of non-perishable food in our pantry.
My local Home Depot is now completely out of N95 surgical masks. I purchased 3 out of the last remaining box. Walmart is out of hand sanitizer in the city. My wife bought the last two bottles after checking the inventory across a city of 1.4 million people.
Check the inventory in your pantry and go shopping for at least a month of essentials.