Coronavirus: Bergamo, Italy, native warns everyone in Ohio to ‘stay home’

Giovanni Principe, who grew up in Bergamo, Italy, has a message for all the Ohioans who aren’t taking the stay-at-home or social distancing orders seriously or who don’t think the coronavirus pandemic is serious:

“It’s not a flu. It’s worse than what you can imagine,” Principe told News Center 7’s Sean Cudahy on Thursday night. “Stay home! Listen to [Ohio Department of Health Director] Doctor Amy Acton.... I say it again. Stay home!”

Living and working in the Dayton area since he was transferred here from Chicago in 2005, Principe posted his message to Facebook because he doesn’t believe people in the United States understand what COVID-19 is all about.

>> Coronavirus: What you need to know

Principe said he lost a cousin back home in Italy, a relative so sick he didn’t make it to the hospital.

Principe said his best man’s father contracted the virus and died in a hospital.

“I see what is happening to my friends,” he told Cudahy. “It’s like an every day horror movie that never ends.”

Principe, who like many people works from home these days, represents a real life connection between the virus in the United States and in Europe.

Bergamo, according to media reports, is one of the epicenters of the coronavirus pandemic.  As many as 40,000

“Bergamaschi,” as they are called, made the 37-mile trip from Bergamo to Milan for a soccer match researchers have dubbed “Game Zero”, which was held two days before the first case of locally transmitted COVID-19 was confirmed in Italy.

>> Coronavirus: Live updates

They are fans of Atalanta, a club that was making it debut in Europe’s top competition against Valencia. A third of Bergamo’s 120,000 population — including nearly 30 busloads of fans — traveled to Milan. Nearly 2,500 fans of visiting Valencia also traveled to the match.

Valencia said more than a third of its squad got infected after the match in Milan. A Valencia defender was the first Spanish league player to test positive for COVID-19.

Principe said he reads the newspapers every day and what he reads breaks his heart.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said.

Family members stricken with the virus are taken from their homes “wrapped in plastic” to the hospitals and their relatives “don’t see them any more.”

As soon as someone dies, Principe said, they are put in a casket and the casket is sealed.

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