In early April, in full emergency Covid19, we published a first testimony of how this particular experience was lived overseas, thanks to the availability of Marcello Ferrari, of San Giorgio in Salici, resident in New Jersey a few steps from New York.
Almost two months after the beginning of the health emergency, we went back to ask Marcello for a point of the situation which we report below.
The Coronavirus emergency in the United States began around March 15 and its impact of distance, masks and concern is unfortunately becoming more and more the new normal. These weeks have been quite particular from three main points of view: work, social and psychological.
The socio-employment situation is totally changed. In the area where I am (ed. Rutherford in New Jersey a stone’s throw from New York), in February of this year the historical minimum level of unemployment, around about 3%. But now the situation has completely reversed and has reached almost 15% in record time. In the United States indeed there is no mechanism similar to layoffs in Italy, but the only help received by employees is unemployment.
This, given the emergency situation, has been strongly integrated with additional support measures so that, for the lower income brackets, there are people who earn more now in unemployment than they perceived when they worked. However, this is one temporary situation which is expected to end in late June in the hope of a drastic improvement.
The approach of States of New York and New Jersey of pandemic management has been specular and almost identical to the Italian one. All companies considered “non-essential” have been forced to close until a date to be determined and are still closed. The catering sector has been open since the beginning but only for home delivery or take out. The retail sector is still completely closed and at the moment there are no indications that suggest a short reopening. These decisions were the ones they did caused the loss of the job for millions of people who have had to apply for unemployment benefits.
The e-commerce sector remained open with not a few controversies since, in the warehouses of the Amazon giant, they were detected dozens and dozens of infections which led the employees to go on strike as well as to report the employer.
I personally am one of the lucky ones who could keep working, as the company where I work deals with distribution and I have been able to perform most of my tasks from home, limiting my presence in the office to once or twice a week. This helped me manage anxiety and concern that I might be infected. Still some time remains anxiety and worry to be infected because I am 7 thousand kilometers away from my family so, if I need something, I could only rely on friends I have known here in these years.
However, the most paradoxical situation in which I found myself is the one concerning the lack of products in supermarkets. I never thought that in the United States of America and in particular in the areas surrounding New York, you could go to the supermarket and do not find basic products such as toilet paper, water, meat, frozen foods and cleaning products. According to what has been said, it seems that this problem was given by the fact that all of a sudden the population panicked and made huge stocks of products, as is generally done with a hurricane on the way. The only difference is that instead of lasting a week, this situation lasted for almost two months. To this was added the fact that some meat production / processing plants were outbreaks where the virus has spread and therefore they were forced to close for several days.
So far the situation has become a little more normal and fortunately we can find these basic necessities again but it was a situation that it left me incredulous and where I never thought of finding myself. While until a few weeks ago I limited myself to buying only the bare minimum, I have now learned what to do one minimum additional stock, especially of non-perishable products such as disinfectants and … toilet paper!
As for the health emergency management from the hospital point of view, it was interesting to see day by day how individual states and the federal agency managed / collaborated in the emergency.
It was a real tug of war for weeks when i Governors, especially New York and New Jersey, they asked for help from President of the United States claiming that they are not supported enough by sending key products such as fans and protective material such as masks and gowns. The response and response were not always particularly friendly but I believe that in the end this mode worked well enough as everyone managed to obtain the materials needed to overcome the emergency peak and now hospitals are slowly emptying. This makes me feel a little more relaxed because, at least if I ever have the misfortune of being infected, we are no longer in a total panic situation.
The indications of behavior given here have been slightly different from those given in Italy.
While in Italy it was basically asked / imposed not to leave the house except for essential reasons, here we were certainly asked to leave as little as possible but at the same time it was encouraged to go out once a day for a walk keeping social safety distances and covering the mouth and nose with the mask.
I believe this was done mainly for two reasons: to limit the occurrence or exacerbation of as far as possible psychological issues, psychological problems such as depression, and avoid an excessive increase in obesity-related problems which is always a fairly problematic topic around here. I must say that this method of action has found me particularly in agreement and whenever I have found myself going out on the street I have always found people who are very respectful of the rules.
Unfortunately, I don’t think this situation will be resolved anytime soon so now my curiosity, like that of the whole world, is to understand how we will be able to reinvent our life with all these limitations. I am sure that we have all learned a lot in the past two months and that even if there is a second wave of infection we will all be much more prepared on how to behave. Obviously the hope is that this will not happen and that in the meantime an effective cure can be found as soon as possible thanks to this vaccine on which the whole world is working.
Clearly none of us would have ever wanted to find ourselves in this situation but trying to find a minimum of positive side from every circumstance I believe that from what has happened in recent weeks we have all learned to appreciate freedom even more than before to be able to leave our homes whenever we want but above all to be healthy and to be able to share with our loved ones, physically or virtually, every single day of our lives.