`Am I going now to my execution?’ One doctor’s very long day

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`Am I going now to my execution?’ One doctor’s very long day

COVID-19, as the world now knows, can be devastating; it causes mild to moderate symptoms in many of those infected, but pneumonia and other life-threatening complications can ensue. Over 137,000 people with the virus have died worldwide, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University that experts say is almost certainly too low.

On this day, Passeri’s ward has 32 of the hospital’s 450 COVID-19 patients. With a gloved hand, he touches the bare hand of a patient in his 80s. The hiss of oxygen makes it impossible for another elderly patient to hear what Passeri is saying, so the doctor writes out an update on the man’s condition and hands it to him to read.

On a desk, cardboard boxes hold envelopes that contain medical charts. Two boxes are marked “discharged.” The third is marked “deceased.”

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Mask, goggles, several pairs of gloves, three layers of protective gown, foot covers: At the end of his shift, Passeri removes all in a deliberate, practiced ballet to ensure that nothing contaminated by the virus will touch his skin. The shower he will take at home will be welcome relief.

On this night, he stretches out in his ’’isolation” bedroom with a book, then gets some sleep before heading back to the hospital and joining his fellow medical warriors once more.

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D’Emilio reported from Rome.

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Follow AP coverage of the pandemic at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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