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COVID-19 perspective from Kansas family living in Italy


AREZZO, Italy (KSNW) – Leia Girard is from Wichita but is now living in the Tuscany region of Italy.

“We have actually been on full quarantine, not everybody knows this,” said Leia this week from her home in Arezzo, Italy. “Which means we can’t leave our home at all. We can be fined up to 4,000 euros for leaving more than a couple hundred feet from our house.”

It has been a month.

One person per family is allowed to leave the house to go to a grocery store or a pharmacy. All the stores are closed except grocery and pharmacy and when you go a mask and gloves are required.

“They take our temperature before we go into the store,” said Leia.

Leia and her husband Nicolas are doing missionary work in Italy. And they say Italy has seen many deaths from COVID-19.

Nicolas says Kansans can get through this and help flatten the curve.

“Yes, you can. Of course, you can do it,” said Nicolas. “I’m not a stay-at-home guy. I work in an office 40-50 hours a week. I’m not at home all that much during the day and all of a sudden I’m, I can’t take a walk more than 200 feet from my home. But, hey, it’s just for a season. The takeaway is enjoying being with your spouse, with your kids. Play games. Order online board games, watch the movie you’ve been wanting to watch and read the books that you’ve been wanting to read.”

The Girard family feels it has a somewhat different perspective living in Italy, as the country has very strict rules about staying at home.

“The government does fly drones in the populated city centers,” said Leia. “They are checking to make sure people are not out and about.”

You are still allowed to walk your pets in public in Arezzo, Italy. But other than that the family stays home.

So the family does a lot on social media to show their life. They also show their kids playing and staying busy.

But mostly the family, which has a strong faith, stays positive.

“Just to stay positive. Americans are go, go, go,” said Leia. “Take that time with your family and just bite the bullet like our grandparents did in the Depression, in the World War, and realize also you can be blessed staying at home for this short period of time to not wipe out a generation which is essentially what is happening in Italy.”

Leia and Nicolas say they are encouraged to see the death toll in Italy has slowed. They say the social distance and staying home is helping.

But the grind of staying in your home can take a toll. So they remind everyone to stay active as best they can and talk to someone about your mental health if you are feeling down.

Nicolas and Leia say the family has been staying home a month now and both say moderate exercise can certainly help keep you healthy.

“Eating healthy and exercise,” says Leia. “You need to be active. You know, do some aerobics in your home. So the physical aspect of keeping moving and not just sitting, literally watching tv all day. Do some jumping jacks. All of our kids are required to do a workout throughout the day to keep them mentally sharp, and eating healthy.”

The family continues to document their life in Italy and they are sending their best to family and friends in Kansas as we all fight COVID-19.

“Best advice,” says Leia. “Just enjoy time with family.”


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