Experiencing the virus abroad

Garrett Short
Created: March 27, 2020 05:41 PM

(ABC 6 News) - The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Italy especially hard, something Austin natives Patrick and Ashley Symmonds have seen up close and personal.

The Symmonds have lived in Italy with their son Quentin the last two years, with Patrick serving in the United States Air Force. Their lives have drastically changed since COVID-19 began running rampant in Italy-- even though it all seemed blown a bit out of proportion early on.


"I woke up one morning to an ambulance at our neighbor's house. That's kind of when things clicked that, alright, this is actually serious and maybe we need to listen and stay home," Ashley said.

From there it was a slippery slope. Businesses everywhere shut down over the course of a few weeks and left the country reeling.

"I try to not cry in front of our two-year-old, so I'll put him down to nap before I check and see what's going on with the news and stuff before I have a complete freak out," Ashley said.

She also says she hasn't left the house in two weeks. Patrick has been doing the grocery shopping, as well as going to work, which worries Ashley that he will bring the virus home with him. The easiest thing for her to do is stay at home and spend time with Quentin, especially considering the restrictions placed on them by the Italian government.

"They're making sure that people aren't outside of their houses, that they're social distancing. So they were walking around with a meter stick making sure people are spaced correctly apart."

The Italian government has heightened the consequences for people that don't follow the restrictions.

"They wave this thing over and they pull you over to the side of the road and they check where are you going? Why are you going there? And then, say you have a doctor's appointment, they'll call ahead and they'll be like, 'does she really have a doctor's appointment?' And if they find out that you're lying, or you're outside of your residence and you're running or something, and you're not supposed to be, you're getting fined right now," Ashley said.

To make matters worse for the family, Ashley is 24 weeks pregnant with their second child-- a boy.

"We don't know if he'll be born healthy if I catch this. If I catch it if either of us would make it through."

In order to limit the spread of germs, the hospitals have buckled down, allowing only patients into the hospitals, and turning their families away. Patrick hasn't been allowed to go with during check-ups.

"It kind of sucked having to go home to just being like, 'hey, we're having a boy. Sorry you missed it.'"

If the current restrictions last, Patrick will be able to be there for the birth of their son, but will be promptly removed right after.

The country is shut down and the virus is spreading. Ashley, like everyone, is scared of getting COVID-19, but she has other people she worries about across the Atlantic, too.

"Outside of my nuclear family here getting sick, my biggest fear is our family at home. Just because we were briefed yesterdary that we can't go home if anybody dies," Ashley said.

For now, she is waiting the virus out, and spending time with her son while waiting for the storm to pass.

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