ROME, Italy (WDTN) — A New Carlisle man is currently living in Italy and speaking out about what it’s been like since the deadly pandemic hit the country.
Kevin Helt is a Wittenberg grad with a degree in exercise science and has been pursuing his masters in Italy for the last eight months. He’s a 22-year-old physically fit soccer player but realizes the coronavirus doesn’t discriminate and has been heeding all warnings.
“I live in Trastevere. It’s a very touristy area,” describes Kevin.
Kevin snaps pictures of the eerie calm at some of Italy’s most popular destinations. Normally packed and filled with the sounds of the daily hustle and bustle, quiet blankets the area.
“Piazza Venezia–it is pretty much the center of Rome, and it has a huge roundabout. There’s always people around there,” says Kevin. “It’s totally dead there now. It’s like a ghost town.”
Since August, Kevin has been earning his masters degree in sports management and soccer coaching at the American University of Rome. When the coronavirus hit, things started to change.
“It’s a very different vibe when you go outside and walk around here now,” admits Kevin. “You see everybody taking precautions, such as the masks and the gloves, and when you pass somebody on the street without thinking you automatically go to the opposite side of the street. You stay as far away as possible.”
Soon after a lockdown went into effect the second week in March in Italy, Kevin–not quite fluent in Italian with no access to local Italian TV news– was initially unaware of the order.
“Me and my friend–my roommate–were out on the corner of our street just playing soccer back and forth, trying to keep up our touch and keep in shape; and the cops did actually stop us, and they asked for our IDs, what we were doing outside, and kind of gave us a lecture about not being able to go outside anymore,” states Kevin.
Now confined to his apartment, he leaves only to go to the grocery and pharmacy for essentials. He exercises inside, running up and down the stairs and doing body weight workouts. As he’s staying safe, he cautions people in the U.S.
“Just make sure that you’re thinking not only of yourself,” urges Kevin. “Understand that your actions can really affect the lives of other people.”
Although numbers are grim in Italy with more than 110,000 cases reported and a death toll of more than 13,000, Kevin says he is seeing glints of hope.
“A 101-year-old woman just got released and cured of the virus this past week,” recounts Kevin. “In the end of the day, it will get better.”
Kevin is staying in Italy until at least mid-May. He also took a job with a summer camp there, and he’s waiting to see what happens with that.