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Mainer living in Italy urges others to take COVID-19 seriously

Justin Gray is a Yarmouth native who now lives in Milan. He says now is the time to take COVID-19 seriously, before it's too late.

MAINE, USA — Justin Gray has lived in Europe for 15 years but is originally from Maine.

He and his family have been on lockdown in their home in Italy for more than three weeks. Now, he's urging Mainers to take COVID-19 seriously.

"It just seems like people don't take it seriously at the time that they need to take it seriously," he said.

He said many people in Italy were somewhat brushing off the threat of COVID-19.

"You know our instinct is to say it's their problem. It's a problem in China, It's a problem in Italy. It's a global problem at this point," Gray said.

He encourages Mainers to "try to break the chain."

In Italy, people are only allowed out of their homes for a few reasons.

"To leave your house you have to fill out a legal document," Gray said as he holds up a copy of the document.

Gray said the three reasons a person can leave the house in Italy are for work, essential services such as grocery stores and pharmacies, and for medical care.

"And if the police stop you, which they did to us, you have to sign it on the bottom saying this is where I'm going, this is why I'm doing it and they have to co-sign it," he said.

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Gray said if you're a younger person and you're not concerned about the virus or think you'd be okay, don't take precautions for yourself - do it for our elderly and our healthcare workers.

"So maybe if we catch it then we will need the healthcare system and we're going to put an extra burden on these people who are already working incredibly long shifts, stressed out and tired," he said. "Make sure that you keep yourself out of the healthcare system so that other people will have that available to them if they need it."

When asked if he thinks Mainers could end up in the same situation as Italians if they don't act now, Gray said, "I really do."

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