- Oprah Winfrey’s new AppleTV+ talk show, Oprah Talks COVID-19, covers the unfolding coronavirus pandemic.
- For her latest episode, Oprah hears from a journalist and a doctor about the unfolding situation in Italy.
- Oprah previously spoke to Idris Elba about his positive diagnosis.
Oprah Winfrey’s new AppleTV+ show, Oprah Talks COVID-19, is devoted to exploring the one issue on everyone’s minds right now: The coronavirus pandemic. Conducted out of Oprah’s home in Santa Barbara, the show’s first episode was an intimate sit-down with Idris Elba and his wife, Sabrina Dhowre, who have both tested positive for the highly infectious virus.
For the latest episode of Oprah Talks COVID-19, Oprah zeroed in on Italy, the country currently at the epicenter of the pandemic. Italy has surpassed China as the nation with the most coronavirus-related deaths. As of March 9, the entire country has been on lockdown, and citizens face €200 fines for leaving the house without proper forms.
In the episode, Oprah heard from two Italians whose lives changed drastically in a short span—and in utterly different ways. Along with most of Italy, journalist Monica Maggion is under strict quarantine. She described the uncanny quiet outside her apartment in Milan, where she is living with her elderly parents. “There is no sound but the ambulance,” Maggioni told Oprah.
Don’t mistake the silence Maggioni described for calm. She was visibly pained as she opened up about about the gruesome combination of the wide-spread illness, and people’s powerlessness to be with near their affected loved ones. “You don’t have any chance to stay close to those who are passing away,” Maggioni said.
Maggioni has already been personally affected by the pandemic. Three days prior, her mother’s brother, a priest, passed away after contracting COVID-19. Her family was unable to have a proper funeral. Nowadays in Italy, funerals are conducted by a lone priest, with no attendees.
She summed up the uncanny experience in the title of recent op-ed in The Washington Post:“In Italy, we live in silence, we die in silence, and we wait.”
Though Maggioni is a journalist, she was caught off-guard by the pandemic, as were so many others were—including Oprah, who admits she “turned a blind eye” when the news was first unfolding out of Wuhan, China.
“This is an example of how we are connected in ways that we never even realized,” Oprah said. “What affects one, in another part of the globe, affects us all.”
Maggioni expressed the hope that coronavirus can, in some way, teach the world a lesson. “I’m praying that our entire world gets the lesson,” Oprah responded.
In the second half of the powerful episode, Oprah spoke to Dr. Vergano, an ER doctor on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.
A month ago, Dr. Vergano was skiing in the mountains near his home. Now, the Turin-based anesthesiologist is surviving on three to four hours of sleep, and making unfathomable decisions regarding the “overwhelming flow” of coronavirus patients pouring into the ER of Italy’s San Giovanni Bosco hospital. “They’re increasing day after day,” Vergano said.
Whereas Maggiore is stuck in a terrifying limbo, powerless and confined to her apartment, Dr. Vergano and his colleagues have the power to choose which suffering patient gets a ventilator—and thus determine who lives, and who dies.
Further, Dr. Vergano faces the stress of his colleagues getting sick with coronavirus, and knowing he could be next. “You always think you could be in that bed,” Dr. Vergano said.
Oprah finished by thanking Dr. Vergano and his colleagues for their heroism. While Dr. Vergano appreciated the support, he said there is only one real way to help doctors: Stay at home.
“The only medicine for coronavirus is prevention,” Dr. Vergano said. “If you don’t flatten the curve, too many people will get sick at the same time and national health services will collapse under the pressure. Do not underestimate the severity of this pandemic.”
Maggiore offered same advice for other countries who have yet to experience the full force of the pandemic: Act now. “Don’t wait. Don’t waste time. Don’t talk. Just do what’s needed,” Maggiore said, emphatically.
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