Apr 21, 2020 - World

Italy's prime minister previews cautious coronavirus reopening

Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP via Getty Images

Guidelines to cautiously reopen parts of Italy will likely be applied starting May 4, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Tuesday in a Facebook post.

Why it matters: Italy, which enforced the world's first nationwide coronavirus lockdown in March, has reported the most deaths caused by COVID-19 outside of the U.S., per Johns Hopkins data.

What he's saying: "I wish I could say: Let's reopen everything. Right away. We'll start again in the morning. This government has put the protection of citizen's health first, but it is certainly not at all insensitive to the objective of preserving the efficiency of the production system. But such a decision would be irresponsible. It would bring up the contagion curve uncontrollably and it would frustrate all the efforts we've put in so far. All together," Conte wrote on Tuesday.

Details: Conte said the country's reopening plan should include assessments of how many people use public transportation and private vehicles at what times, and how social distancing can be guaranteed — and rush hours avoided — for commuters.

  • He also said easing travel restrictions should vary based on the region, since "the characteristics and modes of transportation in Basilica are not the same as in Lombardy."
  • Conte noted that hospitals in different areas may face unique levels of stress, depending on how many coronavirus patients need care. As the New York Times notes, health care facilities in Italy's southern region are less sophisticated and financially supported than those in the north.

Go deeper: Europe inches its way out of lockdown

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U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

About 40.7 million Americans have filed for unemployment since the coronavirus pandemic began, including 2.1 million more claims filed from last week.

Why it matters: Even as states reopen their economies, Americans are still seeking relief. Revised data out Thursday also showed U.S. economy shrunk by an annualized 5% in the first quarter — worse than the initially estimate of 4.8%.

The pandemic’s health side effects are growing

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Nearly half of Americans said that either they or someone in their household has skipped or delayed needed medical care because of the coronavirus, according to new polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Why it matters: Shutting down elective medical care may have been necessary, particularly in coronavirus hotspots, but will have lasting effects on some patients.

Notre Dame president: Science alone "cannot provide the answer" to reopening

The Main Administration Building and Golden Dome on the campus of University of Notre Dame before a football game in 2018. Photo: Michael Hickey/Getty Images

University of Notre Dame President John Jenkins wrote in a New York Times op-ed Tuesday that science alone "cannot provide the answer" regarding the school's decision to bring students back to campus for its fall semester.

The state of play: Jenkins said that the decision also hinged on "moral value," arguing that "the mark of a healthy society is its willingness to bear burdens and take risks for the education and well-being of its young. Also worthy of risk is the research that can enable us to deal with the challenges we do and will face."