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Journalist says she'd rather be in ​virus-ravaged Italy than in Trump-led US during the coronavirus outbreak. Her reason is not great.


What's keeping her?

Photo by Stefano Guidi/Getty Images

In Italy, the health care system is reeling as the novel coronavirus has infected over 15,000 and killed more than 1,000 people. Doctors — simply unable to provide care for everyone — have reportedly been forced to operate under a utilitarian system of choosing which patients to treat, electing in some cases to leave the elderly to die without care.

Yet the Intercept's Alice Speri says she would rather be weathering the outbreak there than in the United States under President Donald Trump's leadership. In fact, she says that while many have been frantically looking for flights back to the U.S., she has been scanning flight trackers in hopes of making the opposite trip.

Why, you might ask? Here's her answer:

Even as the death toll back home continues to climb and the lockdown gets stricter by the day, I would much rather weather this pandemic in Italy than here. I just can't shake the terror that the United States, my adopted country, is fundamentally unequipped to handle what lies ahead.

In the U.S., despite weeks of notice, officials are scrambling to get a grip on a quickly approaching disaster. Trump's press conference last night was the most terrifying public statement I have ever heard, even from him. Days ago, as the number of infections rose at home, I began hearing about friends of friends here in New York who were struggling to get tested despite worsening symptoms. And yet as cases multiply in the U.S., the number of people tested here remains abysmally low. No one knows what's coming, but we know far less here in the U.S. than people do back home.

Moreover, despite Speri's terror at Trump's leadership, perhaps an even stronger motive for her to ditch America and take flight for Italy is the tempting allure of socialized health care.

"It is a tragic irony that a public health emergency unlike anything we have seen in generations would come as Americans are constantly told that the idea of health care as a fundamental right is entitled, radical, crazy talk," Speri argues. "What is crazy, to anyone outside the United States, is that it's even a question."

She goes on to suggest that while Italians may be getting infected by the thousands, dying by the hundreds, and worrying about whether the hospitals can keep up with the rampant spread of the virus, at least they can get tested for free.

"Italians don't have to worry that tests won't be available, or that they'll have to pay for those tests, or for any of their care," she says. "They don't have to fear that if they seek help now, they'll get a surprise bill later or that medical costs will bankrupt them."

Twitchy, in its coverage of the opinion piece, sums up Speri's argument like this: "I'd rather get sick so I can take advantage of socialized health care."

Many on Twitter predictably reacted with amusement to Speri's hot take:

  • "Don't let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya."
  • "It's been a week and you haven't found a flight yet?"
  • "There have been dumb takes. This is all of them."
  • "Could you move there permanently? Thanks."
  • "Do you have a GoFundMe?"
  • "I love all the fun creative ways people virtue signal these days!"
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