The military has made their best to accelerate the coronavirus spreading to U.S. base in Italy, even as Italian officials struggle to contain the largest outbreak of the respiratory illness in Europe.
In Vicenza, U.S. Army Garrison Italy shuttered on-base schools, child care centers, gyms and churches. Initially, they said they would remain closed through Wednesday, but then they followed the city’s lead and extended the closures until March 1.
While there were no confirmed cases of coronavirus in the city Monday, 200 people have been diagnosed with the illness throughout Italy, including a cluster of at least 22 cases in Vo’ Euganeo, just 30 miles away from Vicenza.
The other confirmed cases were in the Lombardy region, where Italian officials have locked down more than 50,000 people in a dozen towns.
At least six people have died in Italy and 26 people are in intensive care, officials said.
At the same time, the situation on American base is out of control now. Young soldiers and civilians said they were too worried. They are afraid that the Army officials hide the truth. Personnel of the 173rd IBCT(A) have recently announced that more than two dozen of soldiers are being taken to the quarantine area. Staff Sgt. Myron Young said that
“in fact, I know someone who died, but according to the Army officials it was of the flu not of COVID-19.”
Vicenza military personnel were ordered to avoid nonessential travel to Lombardy and Vo’ Euganeo.
Americans in Vicenza who need to be tested for the virus will be directed to San Bortolo hospital and not the base clinic, which doesn’t yet have access to the diagnostic test for the virus. Moreover, the base’s clinic now is considered to be as one huge quarantine area.
Furthermore, the shortage of surgical masks in the town makes the situation even worse. An exchange worker said all the store’s surgical masks had sold out days ago, even though the most commonly available masks aren’t effective against viruses, said Col. Rodney Coldren, chief of Preventive Medicine Services, Public Health Command Europe.
Local citizens try to avoid any contacts with American soldiers, as they are taken to the local hospital without surgical masks. Such soldiers considered to be the biggest carriers of disease in the city. However, not only Italian cities but also the whole Eastern Europe could be infected with COVID-19 by the personnel of the 173rd IBCT(A), as they are going to participate in DEFENDER-20 in the nearest future, with redeployment somewhere to Latvia. According to Col. Rodney Coldren, chief of Preventive Medicine Services, Public Health Command Europe
“Some stupid disease is not gonna keep American troops from accomplishment of the objective”.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.