Coronavirus in Italy Cristina Higgins authored a personal account about the spread of COVID-19 in Italy.
Coronavirus in Italy On March 10, 2020, Facebook user Cristina Higgins posted a message from Bergano, Italy, or as she described it the “heart of the coronavirus crisis.” Higgins’ post described how the country was dealing with the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, and claimed that “the news media in the US has not captured the severity of what is happening here.”
Many Snopes readers inquired about Higgins’ post, which racked up more than a half-million shares within two days, so we have reproduced it in full at the end of this article, and we’ll address a few of the claims made in the post.
But first let’s verify that Higgins is the author of this post and that she truly lives in Italy.
Attribution on the internet can be a difficult thing. Facebook posts like this are often copied, pasted, and spread across social media where they get attributed to a variety of sources. An unattributed version of this post, for instance, was viewed more than 100,000 times after it was posted to Imgur.
Higgins does appear to be the true author of this post, however. NBC News contacted her after the post went viral and reported that she is an American currently living in Italy.
For nearly two weeks, Cristina Higgins, an American who lives in Italy, has traveled no farther from her apartment building than the driveway. Her days begin at the breakfast table with her husband and three children before the kids log online to do their schoolwork from home. The family spends their evenings playing Monopoly in their apartment.
We have friends who are getting sick. It’s very stressful,” Higgins told NBC News over the phone from her home in Bergamo, where she, like everyone else, is under government-ordered home isolation, even though she and her family are not sick. “I am nauseous all day long, because every time I look at the news or talk to somebody else, something terrible has happened. And I don’t know what’s going to happen next.”
Higgins said she rarely posts to Facebook but felt it was important to convey to those outside of Italy who can’t comprehend how bad the situation is that they need to do whatever they can to not pass on the disease.
Higgins appears to be the true author of this post. Furthermore, the claims she made in the post, generally speaking, are accurate. Let’s examine a few of her assertions.
Is COVID-19 the Same as the Flu?
While COVID-19 has been compared to the flu and has similar symptoms, Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the House Oversight and Reform Committee that COVID-19 was at least “10 times as lethal” as the seasonal flu.
Here’s a clip of Fauci’s testimony:
Is Italy Under Lockdown?
In general, yes. Italy has restricted public gatherings and travel for all 60 million of its residents. Nonessential businesses such as restaurants and bars have been closed, and the country is encouraging social distancing. Food stores and pharmacies are about the only businesses that will be allowed to stay open until restrictions are lifted.
Are Intensive Care Units in Italy Operating at Capacity?
One major concern about a viral outbreak is that there won’t be enough beds and supplies to treat sick people. Although Italy may have adequate space to treat people during a normal year, hospitals can become overwhelmed when there is a surge of patients. That is currently the case in Italy.
Can Young People Get the Coronavirus?
Although older generations are certainly at higher risk of dying from this disease, young people are not immune to COVID-19. The CDC writes that “infections in children have been reported, including in very young children.” While many younger people may have a strong enough immune system to survive the disease, they can catch it, carry it, and spread it to more people.