A lot has already happened this year. SARS-CoV-2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2) which can cause COVID-19 (COronaVIrus Disease 2019) has been making headlines shortly after it was first reported. The first cases were reported to WHO (World Health Organization) on 2019-12-31. The virus spread. It began as an epidemic in China . The world watched apprehensively. Reports surfaced of cases in other countries and the the apprehension grew. For many folk, it turned to fear when it was upgraded to a pandemic: WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 11 March 2020: "We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic."
We have seen increasing efforts to stem the spread of the disease. Efforts have run the gamut. Closing of borders. Cancellation of sporting events. Conferences cancelled. Churches and other places of worship also closed. Schools closed. Panic buying of household goods and supplies. Supply chain disruptions affecting manufacturers. Restaurant, bars, and other such establishments closed. Work-from-home policies established and enacted.
The changes have been many, widespread, and continuing.
Reading about all the ways that "other people" have been affected is one thing. It seems different, somehow, when it hits closer to home and affects us directly. With many of our usual social activities curtailed or cancelled, it is easy to begin isolating and lose perspective. SoylentNews arose from a troubled period (the SlashCott) and a community has formed from that challenging period.
How have you been affected? Have you been infected? Had a family member or friend who was? Helped neighbors who are struggling? Hunkering down and isolating? (In a basement is optional.) Are you suddenly working from home and finding it challenging to manage your time? Still working on site, but now have a faster commute due to all the other people staying home? Catching up on watching TV shows? Reading more SoylentNews? How has your life changed?
From a somewhat different perspective, how have others helped you to cope... and how have you been able to help others? One of the potential impacts of social distancing is isolation and depression. I count myself fortunate, indeed, to have served this site for over 6 years and for all the people I have gotten to know, here. For those who may not be aware, SoylentNews has its own IRC (Internet Relay Chat) server. Feel free to drop in to #Soylent and just say "Hi!"
Social distancing is permanent when you're dead. So, practice good hygiene and stay safe.
Previously (oldest first):
China Battles Coronavirus Outbreak: All the Latest Updates
2019-nCoV Coronavirus Story Roundup
Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Roundup
Coronavirus Roundup (Feb. 17)
Roundup of Stories about the SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus and COVID-19 Disease
COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2 - CoronaVirus) Roundup
CoronaVirus (SARS-CoV-2) Roundup 2020-03-12
Working from Home: Lessons Learned Over 20 Years
Disorganized? Ineffective? Corrupt? Italy?
More likely, that's just how quickly it hit. They were one of the first countries to be hit hard outside of Asia and had little time to put in place quarantines and social distancing measures to slow the rate at which it spreads.
As bad as it is there, at least people will get tested without having to worry about being presented with a $1500 bill on top of whatever the cost of being treated is.
That has little to do with the problem.
At the latest numbers more than 0.5% of Italy's entire population has been diagnosed with the virus. And it continues to spread rapidly. And those who have been diagnosed are going to be a fraction of all people with it. No medical system anywhere is meant to operate with this sort of influx of mostly new cases. Do you know what I mean on that last point? This doesn't mean it's like 0.5% of Itality's population getting sick - it's everybody who's already getting sick/injured/etc at a normal rate, suddenly with 0.5% of the entire nation's population added on to it.
No country's medical systems anywhere are going to be able to deal with this because meaningfully and genuinely (as opposed to theoretically) preparing for this sort of eventuality would just be an absurd waste of time and resources 99.99% of the time. We just hit that 0.01%.
Yes, they typically do drills for this sort of thing, but there's really only so much you can do. Getting additional medical doctors and nurses along with supplies like ventilators and this short of a time frame is a massive challenge no matter what you do. If you're lucky enough for it to be contained to a region, then you can import from elsewhere, but during a pandemic, there is no elsewhere. At least not unless you're towards the end of the epidemic and can borrow previously used equipment after the rates have returned to normal elsewhere.
Note they are predicting a 30-fold excess in UK of intensive care unit cases to beds, if no preventative action is taken. That means "health system collapses".