Coronavirus concerns in Italy offer a preview of impact here

DOVER — “Hello from Italy,” reads one of the headlines making the rounds on the internet. “Your future is grimmer than you think.”

It has been said that Italy’s battle with coronavirus is a preview of what we’ll experience here.

Life has changed here quickly over the last week and a half and there remain many uncertainties. Indeed, so much has changed since a University of Delaware professor tested positive for COVID-19 on March 11 and Gov. John Carney issued a state of emergency the following day.

A first it seemed we were just dealing with a few precautions and cancellations, and then more significant concerns that included closing all public schools.

Daily – hourly, really – we have seen our circles of activity tighten.

At first, few people seemed to readily heed the call to stay home or away from others.

One of the people who has been watching this closely in both countries is Dave Bonar, the former Dover city councilman and long-ago reporter for the Delaware State News. He has a stepson living in Rome.

Theron Patterson, his stepson, is on lockdown, pretty much confined to his home, in Italy. Families are allowed one person out at a time to go, and only to visit a grocery store or pharmacy. If police see you out, it requires documentation and a permission slip from police.

Mr. Patterson is a professor at American University of Rome. He continues to hold classes online.

Mr. Bonar and his wife, Patti, stay in regular touch with him with video chat. So, they had an advance look at what might happen in our country and were not surprised.

“We wondered why it took so long,” he said. “It seems like the European Union, in particular, was way out in front of us. They took immediate action and didn’t dally around.

“People in the United States take our freedoms for granted many times and they worry about freedoms being infringed upon. In a case like this, freedom has to be infringed upon.”

These days, Mr. Bonar resides in Maine, easily practicing social distancing because the neighbors are well more than a stone’s throw away in a rural setting.

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What is social distancing? Many of us — including the reporters and editors in our newsroom — likely heard the term for the first time a couple of weeks ago.

The Associated Press helped us prepare for coverage with a style memo on the coronavirus.

Near the bottom was the term social distancing.

The AP said, “No quote marks, no hyphen: The CDC is urging social distancing. The parents are taking social distancing precautions. Generally, social distancing involves measures to restrict when and where people can gather. The goal is to stop or slow the spread of infectious diseases. Measures can include limiting the number of people who can gather, staying 6 feet away from others, closing schools, asking people to work at home, canceling events, limiting or shutting down public transportation, etc. No need to define if the meaning is clear from the context; the term has quickly become widely used and understood. If specific steps are a focus, spell out what those steps are.”

For our readers, you’re likely learning all these terms just as we are. For our stories, we follow recommendations from the Associated Press Stylebook.

So, you may wonder why we write coronavirus or COVID-19.

COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019, is caused by a virus named SARS-CoV-2, the AP said.

“When referring specifically to the virus, the COVID-19 virus and the virus that causes COVID-19 are acceptable,” according to the AP. “But, because COVID-19 is the name of the disease, not the virus, it is not accurate to write a new virus called COVID-19.”

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By the way, we really appreciate all of the readers who have kept us informed on changes to schedules. On social media, we have seen some amusing questions about how many “ells” should be used.

The newspaper style is cancel, canceled, canceling, cancellation.

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We thank readers of the Delaware State News for turning to us for the latest developments. Our website activity certainly has spiked.

We will continue to keep the coronavirus coverage outside of the paywall at delawarestatenews.net/coronavirus.


Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage

Have a question about the coronavirus? Submit it to our newsroom and we’ll ask the appropriate public officials.