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Italy’s Sobering Numbers

A medical worker wearing a protective mask and suit looks on as she treats a patient suffering from coronavirus in an intensive care unit at the Oglio Po hospital in Cremona, Italy, March 19, 2020. (Flavio Lo Scalzo/Reuters)

The numbers out of Italy yesterday are sobering for those of us preparing for the hospital crunch in Seattle and New York. Italy has 5,896 new cases of coronavirus and an astonishing 627 deaths, a massive jump. In total, 4,032 have died in Italy from coronavirus in the past few weeks. The growth of new cases is 14 percent, which is a slowdown in the rate of growth. But it’s a sign that Italy hasn’t reached the peak of its caseload.

The Chinese equivalent of the Red Cross gave a lacerating public assessment of Italy’s “lockdown” in a press conference in Milan, criticizing the government for allowing public transportation systems to still run.

To have nations of the Eastern hemisphere tsk-tsking the West for carelessness with human life is a symbolic moment. Small Pacific city-states like Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore have gotten the virus to a manageable level. South Korea is getting close to this as well. Even if you believe the worst about China’s data reporting, there are signs that the disease is under control in Wuhan. I’m not sure that Italy should be giving China this stage, but I’m loathe to pile on a desperate nation in distress. Pray for Italy.

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