• Alysa Salzberg

Coronavirus death toll may be linked to how we live

One of the ongoing questions about coronavirus is why Italy has such a high death toll.

Although there are many factors to consider, including hospital capacity, testing (or lack thereof), and age and general health of the population, epidemiologist Jennifer Beam Dowd has pointed out something else, and its implications are troubling.


For Dowd, coronavirus may have spread so quickly and been so difficult to contain in Italy because of how people live.


In Italian culture, families are close-knit, and many adults still live with their parents. Sometimes, households are made up of multiple generations. If just one family member is contaminated, they’ll be in proximity to many more people than they would in other cultures.


Read on to learn more about how Italy’s culture may have been a contributing factor to the spread of this deadly disease, and a theory about why Japan, the only country with a higher percentage of elderly citizens than Italy, has a significantly lower rate of infection and deaths.


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