The pandemic intensifies globally.
Springtime in the Plague Year
It’s the virus’s world. We just live in it: isolated, locked down for the duration, sheltering in place, with an alternate risk of cabin fever. The theme of the week is the shutting down—of the city, the country, the world. Markets busted, borders closing. Bars finally emptied. Public schools locked up. College graduations cancelled. An incredible prospect: we won’t be taking trips for the foreseeable future; we won’t be going to meetings. And a Republican White House is getting ready to shower “helicopter cash” on the American people, the bailout of bailouts. And still there are giant holes in the numbers under the fear.
Italy is the eye of the Coronavirus storm, the epicenter of the chaos in treatment, and of the world’s heartbreak and dread. Italy’s death toll in the global pandemic passed 3,400 this week, exceeding the losses in China. At the same time, in the crazy-quilt of plague sites all over the world, even in Italy there are broad patches apparently untouched by the virus. And in the jumble of mis-matching statistics, there was plenty of reason to question and doubt the worst-case scenario: that the rest of Europe and even North America could be 10 days away from the Italy’s nightmare.
Senior European correspondent for NPR's International Desk.
Professor in Disease Prevention at Stanford.
Professor of the Culture of Medicine at Harvard.