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  1. Italy tightens COVID restrictions as experts warn of growing prevalence of variants Health workers prepare vaccine doses in Iseo, Italy. Photo: Stefano Nicoli/NurPhoto via Getty Images Italy on Saturday announced it was tightening restrictions in five of the country's 20 regions in an effort curb the spread of the coronavirus. Driving the news: The announcement comes as health experts and scientists warn of the more transmissible coronavirus variants, per Reuters. The state of play: For the first time since late January, two regions — Basilicata and Molise — have been placed in the country's red-zone, the strictest tier of Italy's color-coded system. All bars, restaurants and non-essential businesses must close and movement will be severely limited. The tiers (white, yellow, orange and red) are based on infection levels and other factors. In Lombardy, Marche and Piedmont, which were moved from the yellow to the orange zone, restaurants and bars must close except for carry-out. Residents are also not allowed to leave their towns except for emergencies or health and work reasons. Yes, but: The island of Sardinia became the first region to move to the minimally restrictive white zone, according to Reuters. What they're saying: “Many outbreaks are due to the (new) variants. I am concerned about the progress of the epidemic," said Gianni Rezza, a senior health ministry adviser, per Reuters. "We must keep up our guard and we must intervene promptly and strongly where needed,” Rezza added. The big picture: Earlier this week, the country extended a ban on non-essential travel between the regions through at least March 27, per Reuters. Italy began its inoculation campaign last year, and has so far administered more than 4.2 million doses of the vaccine. More than 1.3 million people have been fully vaccinated. According to health ministry data, the country recorded 20,499 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, up from 19,886 the day before. More than 2.9 million cases and 97,500 deaths have been reported in Italy since the pandemic began. Source: Italy tightens COVID restrictions as experts warn of growing prevalence of variants
  2. Police in Italy are reporting a large operation against a network involved in IPTV. The Guardia di Finanza says that 58 sites and 18 Telegram channels have been blocked while four IT experts with familiar nicknames have been referred for prosecution along with 1,000 subscribers of pirate IPTV services. Over the past several years Italy’s Guardia di Finanza has been applying increasing pressure to various players in the piracy ecosystem. In addition to targeting distributors of movies, TV shows and live sports via subscription services, the authorities have also homed in on suppliers of pirated newspapers and periodicals. A new law enforcement operation revealed Wednesday continues along those same lines. Operation Evil Web The new action is being spearheaded by the Economic-Financial Police Unit of the Guardia di Finanza of Gorizia. The unit reports that following an investigation it was able to secure a preventative seizure order to block access to 58 websites and 18 Telegram channels. With combined annual traffic of around 80 million visits, the authorities claim that by blocking these platforms they have disrupted around 90% of the audiovisual and editorial piracy carried out in Italy. Given the availability of pirated content in the region, regardless of blocking, that figure sounds optimistic but the operation is clearly significant nonetheless. Investigation Into IPTV Expanded Overseas According to the GdF, the investigation began by targeting an IT expert operating under the online nickname of ‘Diabolik’. The authorities haven’t yet positively identified this developer but given the existence of a Kodi addon called Diabolik441 dedicated to Italian content with links to the Evil King branding (GdF’s operation is called ‘Evil Web’), it seems likely this was one of their targets. An Android application using the same name is also featured in a GdF video (see below). After reportedly identifying Diabolik, the investigation broadened to several regions of Italy and then overseas, including Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States. Three other IT experts also became part of the investigation, identified by GdF as ‘Doc’, ‘Spongebob’, and ‘Webflix’. Again, GdF hasn’t identified these alleged IT experts using anything other than their nicknames but nevertheless describes them as “real oracles” when it comes to the illegal distribution of movies, pay TV, live sports, cartoons, newspapers, magazines, manuals, and even pornography. All four developers have been reported to the “competent judicial authorities” for prosecution. Authorities Trying to Identify 1,000 IPTV Subscribers In Italy, piracy-enabled set-top devices are called ‘pezzotto’ and in common with many regions, are used by huge numbers of end users hoping to gain free or cheap access to pirated movies, TV shows, and live sports. GdF says work is now underway to identify around 1,000 pezzotto/IPTV subscribers – some local, some overseas – so that they can be prosecuted for breaches of copyright law and receiving stolen goods. According to the authorities, penalties can reach up to three years in prison and a fine of 25,000 euros. Similar penalties were mentioned back in Febraury when the Guardia di Finanza said it had reported 223 subscribers of pirate IPTV services to the judicial authorities. Enhanced Site-Blocking Procedures GdF reports that thanks to a new “procedural innovation”, it is now possible to more effectively block sites that facilitate access to previously blocked domains. “This procedural innovation is allowing, day by day, the immediate inhibition of hundreds of new web domains illegally created in order to circumvent the original provision of the Judicial Authority,” its announcement reads. “In addition, the procedures for international judicial cooperation have been activated – and are still in progress – in order to seize the servers from which multimedia contents are distributed in violation of copyright.” Source: TorrentFreak
  3. An Italian court has ordered Cloudflare to block current and future domain names and IP-addresses of the pirate IPTV service "IPTV THE BEST." The order, which follows a complaint from the football league Serie A and Sky Italy, is the first of its kind in the country. Cloudflare put up a strong defense, arguing that it merely passes on traffic, but that didn't convince the court. In recent years, many copyright holders have complained that Cloudflare does little to nothing to stop pirate sites from using its services. The US-based company receives numerous DMCA notices but aside from forwarding these to the affected customers, it takes no action. Cloudflare sees itself as a neutral intermediary that simply passes on bits. This approach is not welcomed by everyone and, as a result, the company has been placed on the EU piracy watchlist alongside familiar pirate sites such as The Pirate Bay, Seasonvar and Rapidgator. Despite this callout, Cloudflare maintains its position. The company doesn’t want to intervene based on allegations from copyright holders and requests a court order to take action. These orders are very rare, but a few days ago the Court of Milan, Italy, set a precedent. Sky and Serie A Sued Cloudflare The case in question was filed by the TV platform Sky Italy and Lega Serie A, Italy’s top football league. The organizations requested a court order to stop various third-party intermediaries from providing access to “IPTV THE BEST”, a popular IPTV service targeted at an Italian audience. Since the IPTV service is a Cloudflare customer the US-based CDN provider was also sued. The copyright holders demanded Cloudflare and several other companies including hosting provider OVH, and ISPs such as Vodafone, TIM, Fastweb, Wind and Tiscali, to stop working with the pirate service. Last September, the Court of Milan sided with Sky and Serie A. It issued a preliminary injunction ordering the companies to stop working with the IPTV provider, regardless of the domain name or IP-address it uses. Cloudflare objected to the claim. In its defense, the company pointed out that it isn’t hosting any infringing content. As a CDN, it simply caches content and relays traffic, nothing more. In addition, the Italian court would lack jurisdiction as well, the company argued. Cloudflare’s Defense Falls Flat Despite the fierce defense from Cloudflare, which extended the case by more than a year, the court didn’t change its position. In a recent order, it explained that it’s irrelevant whether a company hosts files or merely caches the content. In both cases, it helps to facilitate copyright-infringing activity. This is an important decision because services like Cloudflare are hard to classify under EU law, which makes a general distinction between hosting providers and mere conduit services. The Italian court clarified that such classification is irrelevant in this matter. “The ruling is unique in its kind because it expressly addresses the issue of the provision of information society services that are difficult to classify in the types outlined by the European eCommerce Directive,” attorney Alessandro La Rosa informs TorrentFreak. Together with Mr. Bruno Ghirardi, his colleague at the law firm Studio Previti, La Rosa represented the football league in this matter. They worked in tandem with attorney Simona Lavagnini, who represented Sky Italy. ‘Unique and Important Ruling’ Lavagnini tells us that the ruling is important because it’s the first blocking order to be issued against a CDN provider in Italy. “The order is important because, at least to my knowledge, it is the first issued against a CDN, in which the CDN was ordered to cease the activities carried out in relation to illegal services, also including those activities which cannot qualify as hosting activities,” she says. “The recent order clearly says that the services of the CDN shall be inhibited because they help to allow third parties to carry out the illegal action which is the subject matter of the urgent proceeding, even if there is no data storage by the CDN,” Lavagnini adds. TorrentFreak also reached out to Cloudflare for a comment but at the time of writing the company has yet to respond. Cloudflare Blocking Becomes More Common While the attorneys we spoke with highlight the uniqueness of the ruling, Cloudflare previously noted in its transparency report that it has already blocked 22 domain names in Italy following a court order. It’s not known what case the company was referring to there, but it affects 15 separate accounts. The blocking actions will only affect Italians but in theory, they could expand. There are grounds to apply them across Europe or even worldwide, Lavagnini tells us, but that will likely require further clarification from the court. This isn’t the first time that Cloudflare has been ordered to block a copyright-infringing site in Europe. Earlier this year a German court ordered the company to block access to DDL-Music, or face fines and a potential prison sentence. In Italy, the CDN provider was also required to terminate the accounts of several pirate sites last year. However, in that case, Cloudflare was seen as a hosting provider due to its “Always Online” feature. Also, that court order didn’t mention geo-blocking or blocking in general. Source: TorrentFreak
  4. Apple has been slapped with a 10 million euro ($12 million) fine by Italy's antitrust watchdog for unfair commercial practices related to its iPhone marketing in the country. Specifically, Apple is being charged for misleading claims in promotional messages about how deep and how long iPhones can be submerged in water without being damaged. In marketing materials related to ‌iPhone‌ 8, ‌iPhone‌ 8 Plus, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, ‌iPhone XS‌ Max, iPhone 11, ‌iPhone 11‌ Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max, Apple said its iPhones were water resistant at a depth of between one and four meters for up to 30 minutes, depending on the model. However, according to the country's competition regulator, the messages did not clarify that the claims are only true under specific conditions, for example during controlled laboratory tests with the use of static and pure water, and not in the normal conditions of use by consumers. The regulator also took issue with Apple's warranty terms, which do not cover damage caused by liquids. The authority considered it inappropriate to push an "aggressive" commercial practice highlighting water resistance as a feature, while at the same time refusing to provide post-sales warranty assistance if the ‌iPhone‌ models in question suffer water damage. This isn't the first time Apple has fallen under the radar of Italy's antitrust watchdog. In 2018 Apple was fined 10 million euros (about $11.5 million USD) for "planned obsolescence" of its smartphones, following the regulator's investigation into reports of iPhone battery slowdowns. (Via setteBIT.) Source
  5. Italy's Guardia di Finanza says it has carried out a "preventative seizure" of a pirate IPTV platform serving in excess of 50,000 users. The action follows an investigation by Sky and football league Serie A. According to reports, the authorities are now working to identify the platform's subscribers. While rightsholders and authorities all around the world are working to disrupt pirate IPTV platforms, in 2020 Italian law enforcement entities have been more involved than most. Every few weeks agencies including the Guardia di Finanza have announced fresh action to try and reduce the use of piracy-enabled set-top devices, often referred to by the term ‘pezzotto’. New Legal Action Against 50,000-User IPTV Platform According to an announcement by the Provincial Command of the Guardia di Finanza of Milan, an operation coordinated by the Public Prosecutor of Milan has resulted in the “preventative seizure” of an IPTV platform through which more than 50,000 users were accessing TV content without permission. The name of the platform hasn’t been directly released by the authorities but a video claiming to show aspects of ‘Operation: The Net’ shows the URL Webnet.cam (currently down) apparently involved in IPTV. Considering sports broadcasters are some of the entertainment companies hardest hit by the proliferation of piracy-enabled devices, it is no surprise that the action follows preliminary investigations carried out by Sky Italia and football league Serie A. These entities filed complaints with the authorities, triggering an investigation by the Milan Economic-Financial Police Unit and the Computer Crimes Team of the local Public Prosecutor’s Office. Large Pirate IPTV Operation Uncovered “Subsequent investigations revealed the existence of an interconnected organization, operating in different regions of the national territory, dedicated to the sale and distribution of decoding devices suitable for allowing access to the IPTV encrypted service to enjoy television content, without payment of the applicable fees,” GdF’s statement reads. GdF IPTV Seizure Notice According to the law enforcement entity, the investigation against the platform was made more complex due to the suspects’ use of VPNs to “anonymize communications”. Nevertheless, three individuals have now been reported to the prosecutor’s office for breaches of Art. 171 of Italy’s Copyright Law, which for criminal infringements can mean fines and/or imprisonment. Serie A Welcomes Action, Warns Subscribers “We are extremely satisfied with the results we are achieving in synergy with the Public Prosecutor’s Office in the field of combating audiovisual piracy. The work carried out has completed an operation of great importance,” says Serie A CEO Luigi De Siervo. According to Siervo, after identifying those at the top of the “criminal organization” with the assistance of anti-piracy company Digital Content Protection, attention is now being turned to the people who subscribed to the illegal service. “It is a further step forward in our daily battle because thanks to the seizure of the database of these criminals, the final users are being identified who will, in turn, be reported and prosecuted with penalties ranging from 2,500 to 25,000 euros,” the Serie A chief warned. Whether this threat will be carried out at scale will remain to be seen but Italy has already shown a willingness this year to go after pirate IPTV subscribers. In February, the Guardia di Finanza said it had reported 223 subscribers of pirate IPTV services to the judicial authorities. This latest operation against the 50,000-subscriber platform follows on the heels of two others involving Italian authorities in recent months. In September, the Guardia di Finanza said that 58 sites and 18 Telegram channels had been blocked for their involvement in pirate IPTV. Then last month, a massive law enforcement operation (“The Perfect Storm”) carried out across Europe reportedly shut down 5,500 servers used to stream pirated TV broadcasts, live sports, and movies to the public. Source: TorrentFreak
  6. (Reuters) - Italian seasonally adjusted industrial output unexpectedly rose in October driven by an increase in the production of consumer goods, data showed on Monday. Industrial output gained 0.1 percent in October after falling a revised 0.1 percent in September, higher than a median forecast for a 0.4 percent decline in a Reuters’ survey of seven analysts. On a work-day adjusted year-on-year basis, output in October rose 1.0 percent, compared with a revised 1.4 percent gain in September, statistics office ISTAT said. In the three months through October, output rose 0.8 percent from the previous three months, ISTAT said. In October, industrial production gained on consumer goods, which rose 1.3 percent on the month. The production of energy, intermediate goods and investment goods all fell from the previous month. Italy’s economy contracted in the third quarter for the first time in four years, and employers’ lobby Confindustria said the country may already be heading into recession. The economy has been slowing steadily for the last 18 months. The production data point towards a possible stabilisation in the fourth quarter. Italy’s populist government says its expansionary budget, which targets the deficit to rise to 2.4 percent of GDP in 2019 from 1.8 percent this year, is needed to boost growth. But the European Commission says it breaks European Union public finance rules and is calling for Italy to change its budget to reduce deficit spending. Source
  7. Animal was widely hunted and eaten in parts of Europe during Middle Ages A beaver was captured on camera in northeast Italy, marking the first sighting of the animal in that country since 1471 An animal considered a Canadian icon has resurfaced in Italy after an absence of more than 500 years. A beaver was captured on camera in northeast Italy, marking the first sighting of the animal in that country since 1471. Scientists were observing otters last week when the male beaver was seen walking into frame. While the beaver was valued in Canada for its pelt, the animal was widely hunted and eaten in Italy and other parts of Europe during the Middle Ages and considered white meat — the same as fish — so Catholics could eat them on Fridays. The animal didn't make a return to Central Europe until the 1980s, when conservationists reintroduced the species with beavers from northern Russia. Scientists believe the beaver caught on camera is likely a descendant of a group that was introduced by conservationists to the Danube river, which runs through a large swath of Eastern and Central Europe. The European beavers are a distinct species, different from Canadian beavers. Source
  8. Facebook has been fined almost £9m by Italian authorities for misleading users about how it used their data. Italy’s competition watchdog handed the social media giant two fines totalling €10m (£8.9m), the first for “misleadingly” encouraging people to sign up “without informing them in an immediate and adequate way” of how their data would be sold to third parties. The second fine was for “aggressively” discouraging users from trying to limit how the company shared their personal information, by telling them that doing so risked them experiencing “significant limitations”. The fine dwarfs the £500,000 fine imposed on the social network by the British Information Commissioner’s Office earlier this year for breaking data laws. Italy’s AGCM consumer and market watchdog also said in a statement that Facebook does not make clear to users that the social network makes money from data, “simply stressing the fact that it’s free”. It ordered Facebook to publish a “corrective statement” to all users on the desktop site and mobile apps. The data at the centre of the ruling was harvested from a personality quiz app downloaded by hundreds of thousands of people in Italy. As permitted by Facebook’s rules at the time, the app gathered details about users’ Facebook friends without their knowledge. The data was then allegedly used by British firm Cambridge Analytica, which filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, and is now facing damages claims totalling more than £40bn from Facebook users whose personal information was allegedly misused by the firm. Professor David Carroll told the High Court in London he was suing the company for up to £20,000 in damages under the Data Protection Act, over what his solicitor described as "Cambridge Analytica's misuse of his data". Prof Carroll's solicitor, Ravi Naik of ITN Solicitors, said in a witness statement he represented "numerous others" bringing similar claims against the company. Prof Carroll "has a claim of between £5,000 and £20,000 in respect of Cambridge Analytica's misuse of his data", Mr Naik said, and referred to Facebook's estimate that Cambridge Analytica had harvested up to 87 million users' data. "Even if one conservatively uses the lowest end of the range, both in number and value of each claim, and calculates on the basis of 10 per cent of the estimated 87 million affected Facebook users only, with claims of £5,000 each against Cambridge Analytica, that still implies a total potential claim value of £43.5bn," he said. Of the Italian fine, a Facebook spokesperson said: “We are reviewing the authority’s decision and hope to work with them to resolve their concerns. “This year we made our terms and policies clearer to help people understand how we use data and how our business works. We also made our privacy settings easier to find and use, and we’re continuing to improve them. You own and control your personal information on Facebook.” Source
  9. CORINALDO, Italy (AP) — A stampede at a rap concert in an overcrowded Italian disco killed five teenagers early Saturday along with a woman who had brought her young daughter to the event, authorities said. Fifty-three people were reported injured, including 13 in very serious condition. Video broadcast on Italian state TV RaiNews24 showed scores of teenagers rushing out of a door and surging toward a low wall near an exit of the Blue Lantern disco in the central Italian town of Corinaldo, near Ancona on the Adriatic coast. The barrier then appeared to give way and a cascade of teenagers tumbled over it, falling on top of each other. The bodies of the trampled victims were all found near a low wall, Ancona Firefighters Cmdr. Dino Poggiali told Sky TG24 News. The dead teenagers' ages ranged from 14 to 16 and the mother who was killed was 39, said Col. Cristian Carrozza, commander of the Ancona province Carabinieri paramilitary police. The dead woman had accompanied her eight-year-old daughter to the concert and was the mother of four children, Italian daily Il Messaggero reported. The stampede left 53 people injured, with 13 of them in very serious condition, an Ancona interior ministry official said. Italian rapper Sfera Ebbasta, who is popular with young teenagers, was to perform at the venue. Authorities said the organizers had sold far too many tickets for the space utilized. Ancona Chief Prosecutor Monica Garulli told reporters at the scene that about 1,400 tickets were sold but the disco has the capacity to hold only about 870 people. Later, Premier Giuseppe Conte, who visited the scene of the tragedy, said the disco had three rooms but inexplicably only used one of them, with a capacity of 469 people, for the concert. While prosecutors investigate, "the government must ask itself what to so that such tragedies must never happen again," Conte told reporters. The stampede occurred shortly after 1 a.m., less than 30 minutes before the concert was to start. Italian media quoted concertgoers as saying that someone had sprayed an irritant, which triggered the panic. Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said there apparently was a "stink" of some irritating substance. Ancona Police Chief Oreste Capocasa said the dead teenagers were three girls and two boys, the Italian news agency ANSA said. State radio said most of the dead had their skulls crushed in the melee. Doctors at Ancona's main hospital said the most critically injured, all between 14 and 20 years old, had suffered cranial and chest traumas, while others had injuries on their arms or legs. Sfera Ebbasta wrote on Twitter that he was "deeply pained" by the tragedy, thanked rescuers and offered his "affection and support" to the families of the dead and the injured. Out of respect to them, he said he was cancelling some upcoming promotional appearances. The rapper said he didn't want to "express judgment" on those responsible but added he wanted everyone to "to stop and think how dangerous and stupid it is to use pepper spray in a discotheque." Fire commander Poggiali said it was too early in the investigation to know if any safety violations might have played a role in the tragedy. He said when rescue workers arrived, all the doors to the disco were open. Firefighters concentrated at first on helping survivors, who were stretched out on the road outside the club, before starting their investigation, he said. Salvini vowed that responsibility would be determined for the "six broken lives — whoever out of nastiness, stupidity or greed transformed an evening of partying into tragedy." Italy's head of state, President Sergio Mattarella, demanded that a "full light be shone on what happened, ascertaining any responsibility and negligence." "Citizens have the right to safety wherever they are, in workplaces as well as places of entertainment," Mattarella said. At the Vatican, Pope Francis bowed his head in silent prayer after he told some 30,000 pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter's Square that he was praying "for the young people and the mamma" as well as for the many injured at the concert. Italian high schools, which are usually open on Saturdays, were closed this weekend for the Dec. 8 national holiday of the Immaculate Conception. That could have made it more likely that young teenagers were out at such a late concert. Source
  10. Why the Coronavirus Hit Italy So Hard The country has the second-oldest population on earth, and its young mingle more often with elderly loved ones. Photograph: Antonio Masiello/Getty Images With the world descending deeper and deeper into coronavirus chaos, we all face unnerving unknowns: how long we’ll have to remain in isolation, when the pandemic will peak, the depths to which the stock market will tumble. But what’s abundantly clear is that this novel disease is most deadly for the elderly. The young may not present any symptoms at all, and this is especially dangerous to their elders, because they can pass the virus on to them without realizing it. Italy has been hit particularly hard, with some 2,000 deaths thus far. Overwhelmed hospital staffers have had to make devastating decisions about who to treat and who they must let perish. The reason why Italy is suffering so badly, write University of Oxford researchers in a new paper in the journal Demographic Science, may be twofold: The country has the second-oldest population on earth, and its young tend to mingle more often with the elderly, like their grandparents. Such demographic research will be critical in facing down the threat elsewhere, as more countries grapple with a deadly pandemic that’s just getting started and we learn more about how the virus is transmitted within families and communities. In Italy, 23 percent of the population is over age 65, compared to the US, where that population is 16 percent. “Extended longevity has played some role in changing the population structure,” says University of Oxford demographer and epidemiologist Jennifer Beam Dowd, lead author of the new paper. “But it actually has most to do with how rapid the decline in fertility has been in a population.” That is, it’s affected more by Italians having having fewer children than it is by them living longer. At the same time, young Italians tend to interact a lot with their elders. Dowd’s Italian coauthors note that young folks might live with their parents and grandparents in rural areas but commute to work in cities like Milan. Data on the composition of Italian households bears out this familial arrangement too. The study’s authors argue that this frequent travel between cities and family homes may have exacerbated the “silent” spread of the novel coronavirus. Young people working and socializing in urban areas interact with large crowds, where they may pick up the disease and take it home. If they have no symptoms, they’ll have no clue that they’re infecting their elders, the most vulnerable population. “We know now that the mortality is higher in older individuals, but what's not clear yet is why,” says Carlos Del Rio, executive associate dean of the Emory School of Medicine at Grady Health System, who wasn't involved in this research. For example, it could be a matter of older people having weaker respiratory systems, which could also lead to a higher mortality rate among seniors for diseases like pneumonia. Other researchers studying why children don’t seem to get that sick from Covid-19 have pointed out the corollary: Kids tend to have “pristine” lungs that have not already been damaged by a lifetime of inflammation caused by allergies, pollutants, and diseases. This might make them more resistant to attack by the new virus. Despite a full lockdown in place in Italy since the weekend, the virus has already spread far and wide. But with this kind of demographic knowledge, public health officials can better confront the threat elsewhere, Dowd says. “One of the points that we were trying to make is that it's not necessarily just about isolating the older population—we are identifying that they're the most vulnerable—but the general social distancing that's being encouraged to flatten the curve,” says Dowd. Flattening the curve means slowing the rate of new infections, buying researchers time to develop treatments and vaccines, and giving hospitals some respite. “I think our point was that's actually more important when you have a higher fraction of your population that is vulnerable,” she says. But while separating younger and older people might work in theory, it can create practical problems. For example, desperate to flatten the curve, local officials in the US are closing schools. If parents can’t look after their children—because they’re still working out of the home, or because they’re ill themselves—that care might fall on grandparents. To complicate matters even further, a study in Italy doesn’t exactly track with what we might expect in a massive country like the US, where the demographics vary greatly from place to place. Some cities might have far more young people than seniors, and some suburbs are likely just the opposite. Or think about Florida and its masses of retirees. “Florida is like an uber-Italy,” says Andrew Noymer, a demographer at the University of California, Irvine, who wasn’t involved in this research. “Florida is going to be a tough situation, I would predict.” In a place with so many elderly people, many of them living close together in retirement homes, social distancing will be extra important to avoid disaster. “It’s not destiny to say Florida is going to be absolutely clobbered by this,” Noymer says. “There is time with social distancing to flatten the peak. Maybe we can make this the dog that didn’t bark, so to speak.” An aging population doesn’t have to mean a devastating Covid-19 outbreak. In Japan, where over 28 percent of the population is over age 65, by March 16 there had been only 814 confirmed cases and 24 deaths, compared with Italy’s 24,747 cases and 1,809 deaths, according to WHO figures. Japan, along with neighbors including Hong Kong and Singapore, had rapidly ramped up testing in the early days of the outbreak and instituted strict travel controls. But Dowd says we can use Italy’s example to take practical steps in fighting the pandemic. We might pinpoint areas with older populations and try “to anticipate a little bit where the burden of care is going to be the most severe.” After a long delay in the rollout of mass testing in the US, on Friday the FDA approved the use of two commercial coronavirus tests. This may help Americans keep infected young people and healthy elders apart. In the meantime, if you want to check in with your grandparents, do it by phone. WIRED is providing unlimited free access to stories about the coronavirus pandemic. Sign up for our Coronavirus Update to get the latest in your inbox. Source: Why the Coronavirus Hit Italy So Hard (Wired)
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