Italian Diary: A Slowdown In New Cases


March 28, 2020

We are now in the 18th day of the official lockdown. Although the count of new deaths continues to rise, the number of new cases of infection has dramatically slowed. The spike in the number of deaths might simply reflect the lag time associated with people more recently affected. Some of the increase is undoubtedly due to people who jumped on trains in Milan to the south in the hours before the lockdown took effect.

We are continuing to stay indoors. My wife is using her sewing skills to make masks for anyone in our village who wants one. Because I am in a vulnerable demographic, I remain inside, occasionally making use of the terrace during warm days. We had a recent snow storm and cold snap so that option was closed off for several days. It is interesting to look at the world through windows. We feel especially lucky now to have found a place with a pleasant outlook.

The effects of Covid-19 creeps closer even as the rate of new cases is declining. The father-in-law of a young woman we know here died from the virus while another member of her family is still in the hospital. He own grandfather, the village pharmacist, was taken to the hospital last night.

Our neighbors are respecting the social distancing guidelines put in place. People queue up outside the local food markets at a safe distance, as each one is let in individually to shop. Meanwhile, on-line, people are sharing amusing memes and short videos. We just read about a couple of classical musicians in another town north of Rome who are broadcasting performances from their apartment.

We are also monitoring the situation in the U.S. due to our many friends and relatives. The scary part is that the steep portion of the exponential curve has barely begun. The sudden jump by the U.S. to over 100,000 cases is merely the start. I fear that in the not too distant future there will be American cities like Bergamo in Italy which is now figuring with what to do with 8000 coffins containing their deceased.

Mark Hinshaw
Mark Hinshaw
Mark Hinshaw is a retired architect and city planner who lived in Seattle for more than 40 years. For 12 years he had a regular column on architecture for The Seattle Times and later was a frequent contributor to Crosscut. He now lives in a small hill town in Italy.


  1. Mark, kind of you to report in. It’s reassuring, as the headlines are so inciting. The number of cases in WA State would be discouraging, except that the mortality rate is .05%. Sad for those who have passed but huzzah for those who endured and recovered. As I poll friends in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Switzerland, Italy (Ticino) and across the US no one reports illness, though that may not be true tomorrow or next week. Another day. Keep in touch.


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