Christopher Livesay, PBS Newshour - Italian Life Under Lockdown

Christopher Livesay, PBS Newshour
Italian Life Under Lockdown


No one likes to be the first to give you bad news.

That’s what got this whole Coronavirus COVID-19 mess out of control.  Some Communist Party capo in Wuhan smacked down a doctor who tried to warn about this new virus on the loose. Snuffed the doctor’s story because he didn’t want to be the source of trouble for President Xi Jinping.

While the bad news was not being passed, while no one was telling anyone anything, least of all the people of Wuhan, the outbreak reached a tipping point.

“You have to do strict social distancing within a week of the start of community transmission,” says Dr. Thomas Frieden, an epidemiologist who directed the CDC under President Obama. “Otherwise,” he told the New York Times, “you get an explosion, and once you get that explosion, it’s very hard to contain. The key is not to get to that point.”

And then Dr. Frieden gave us the really bad news: “much of Europe is beyond that point, and New York is beyond that point.”

The part of Europe that has tumbled farthest past the tipping point is Italy, where both the numbers of people killed by COVID-19 and the rate at which they are dying are worse already than the worst of China’s epidemic.  And, right now, both the numbers and the rate of Coronavirus fatalities in Italy are growing.

It’s a third statistic that is key: the number of new confirmed cases each day. Until it starts trending down, the worst will get even more so every day.

And if Dr. Frieden, and a lot of other epidemiologists are right, Italy’s siege by Coronavirus is running, along a radically similar course, about 11 days ahead of the USA.

So, what our guest, Rome-based reporter and documentarian Christopher Livesay is going to tell us about Italy’s present and recent past is likely to be our future.



Christopher Livesay is an award-winning correspondent based in Rome. His recent work for NBC, PBS, and NPR focuses on populism, priest sex abuse, and protests in Hong Kong.

In 2018 he was the first American TV correspondent to report from Libya in almost one year, and had to flee the country amid government threats for shedding light on migrant trafficking, torture, and abuse.

In 2016, he was among the first journalists to report from Mosul, on the battle to uproot ISIS.

The same year he was among the first reporters on the scene of a powerful earthquake that killed hundreds outside Rome.

He holds a master’s degree (highest honors) from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism in New York City.




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