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LA STAMPA

A Nation Mourns: He Was Italy's Coronavirus Victim No. 10,000

As the toll passes 10,000, Italians try to look past the unthinkable numbers to remember each life lost, including a 34-year-old father from a town near Milan.

Last week, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Milan is silent.
Last week, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Milan is silent.
Monica Serra

MILAN — In just over a month, the death toll in Italy from the coronavirus pandemic has surpassed 10,000, with the Civil Protection Authority putting the count Saturday at 10,023 by day's end.

The epicenter of the crisis has been the northern region of Lombardy, where nearly 6,000 people have died. Between Friday and Saturday, between the Lombard cities of Bergamo, Brescia and Milan, there were 542 new deaths. Most of those who have died in Italy have been elderly, many infected in hospitals and retirement homes. But there are also young victims of COVID-19, including a 34-year-old named Federico Castellin, whose death Friday turned out to be the 10,000th registered in Italy since the crisis began. Like those of all the other victims, his story should not be lost in the magnitude of the official numbers.

Federico succumb to the virus at Milan's Policlinico Hospital, after being transferred the night before from the city's Sacco hospital, where he'd been fighting for his life for nearly a week. A father of a one-year old and married to Anna, he had suffered some minor health problems that doctors said had left him more vulnerable to the disease. But in his native town of Cinisello, northeast of Milan, everyone knew him by his smile.

Today is like many other days over the past month.

A year and a half ago, he had opened Café Zen, in the town center, two years after the closure of his parents' café, and with the help of his father Paolo, behind the counter. The local tourism association is located next door to the coffee bar, and its president Paolo Tamborini, became fast friends with Federico. "He was always upbeat and generous with everybody," Tamborini said. "He was a serious person, someone you could trust. The last time I saw him was on March 9th when he had to close the café for the national lockdown. But Federico was fine, he had no symptoms."

Giacomo Ghilardi, the mayor of Cinisello, said this day was both similar and different than others in the town of 75,000 since the outbreak began. "This day has really left its mark," he said. "Today is like many other days over the past month, days where I find myself mourning our fellow citizens."

Mayor Ghilardi continued: We will remember everybody. All our loved ones, friends, family, acquaintances. Everyone we have lost and will lose because of the coronavirus. We will remember Federico, who was always kind, generous and selfless. Today is a difficult day. These are times of struggle, courage, suffering, work, pride. But soon, we will wipe away our tears, we will get up, we will smile again and we will remember. That I promise you."


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Child sitting on a bench

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-OpEd-

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