New COVID-19 test numbers show that Italy is close to flattening the curve
via Al Jazeera News / Twitter

The big reason that people around the planet are social distancing is to slow the spread of COVID-19 so that fewer people need to seek treatment and hospitals are not overrun. Epidemiologists call this practice "flattening the curve."

In Italy, the curve wasn't flattened fast enough and hospitals became overloaded with patients fighting the deadly virus. So patients went without having ICU beds and hospitals suffered from a lack of basic supplies.

Italy has seen the most COVID-19 deaths in the world with over 11,500.



via Science Alert

Italy's healthcare workers have paid a tremendous price for their bravery during the crisis. Sixty-three have died because of the virus and there has been an average of 600 new infections among these workers every day.

However, there is good news coming out of Italy. On Monday, the Italian Civil Protection Department announced a clear slowdown in the number of infected people. The number has only grown 2% to reach 75,528.

"We are witnessing a slowdown [of the outbreak]," Fabrizio Pregliasco, a virologist from the University of Milan, said according to Newsweek. "It is not plateau yet, but it is a good sign."

The total number of those who have recovered from the virus had a sharp increase, reaching 14,620.

Although the outbreak hasn't peaked, Italian experts believe it's near.

via Reuters / Twitter

The disease's progress may be slowing, but Italy is looking to extend its lockdown which was scheduled to lift on April 3. Reports show that it may be extended at least another two weeks.

"The measures expiring on April 3 will inevitably be extended," regional affairs minister, Francesco Boccia, said according to Newsweek.

"I think that, at the moment, talking about re-opening is inappropriate and irresponsible," he added.

Italy appears to have the highest death rate on the planet from the disease. China had a similar number of infections but only a third of the deaths of Italy.

A big reason is that only the most severe cases are being treated because Italy's medical system has been completely overrun by the pandemic.

"We have a national healthcare system that works very well, especially in Lombardy -- but even our system has been hit by this," Dr. Massimo Galli, head of the infectious disease unit at Sacco Hospital in Milan, said according to CNN.

"Miracles have been done in multiplying the numbers of beds in hospitals," he continued. But medicine "has been lacking -- and this is a big problem that will be felt by other countries."

Another major factor is that Italy has the second oldest population on the planet behind Japan. The average age for Italians who have died after testing positive for the virus is 78.

Lainey and baby goat Annie. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse
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Oftentimes, the journey to our true calling is winding and unexpected. Take Lainey Morse, who went from office manager to creator of the viral trend, Goat Yoga, thanks to her natural affinity for goats and throwing parties.

Back in 2015, Lainey bought a farm in Oregon and got her first goats who she named Ansel and Adams. "Once I got them, I was obsessed," says Lainey. "It was hard to get me off the farm to go do anything else."

Right away, she noticed what a calming presence they had. "Even the way they chew their cud is relaxing to be around because it's very methodical," she says. Lainey was going through a divorce and dealing with a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis at the time, but even when things got particularly hard, the goats provided relief.

"I found it impossible to be stressed or depressed when I was with them."

She started inviting friends up to the farm for what she called "Goat Happy Hour." Soon, the word spread about Lainey's delightful, stress-relieving furry friends. At one point, she auctioned off a child's birthday party at her farm, and the mom asked if they could do yoga with the goats. And lo, the idea for goat yoga was born.

A baby goat on a yoga student. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse

Goat yoga went viral so much so that by fall of 2016, Lainey was able to quit her office manager job at a remodeling company to manage her burgeoning goat yoga business full-time. Now she has 10 locations nationwide.

Lainey handles the backend management for all of her locations, and loves that side of the business too, even though it's less goat-related. "I still have my own personal Goat Happy Hour every single day so I still get to spend a lot of time with my goats," says Lainey. "I get the best of both worlds."

Lainey with her goat Fabio. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse

Since COVID-19 hit, her locations have had to close temporarily. She hopes her yoga locations will be able to resume classes in the spring when the vaccine is more widely available. "I think people will need goat yoga more than ever before, because everyone has been through so much stress in 2020," says Lainey.

Major life changes like Lainey's can come around for any number of reasons. Even if they seem out of left field to some, it doesn't mean they're not the right moves for you. The new FOX series "Call Me Kat", which premieres Sunday, January 3rd after NFL and will continue on Thursday nights beginning January 7th, exemplifies that. The show is centered around Kat, a 39-year old single woman played by Mayim Bialik, who quit her math professor job and spent her life's savings to pursue her dreams to open a Cat Café in Louisville, Kentucky.

Jeff Harry started making similar moves when he was just 10-years-old, and kept making them throughout his life. After seeing the movie "Big,"Jeff knew he wanted to play with toys for a living, so he started writing toy companies asking for next steps. He finally got a response when he was a sophomore in high school — the company told him he needed to become a mechanical engineer first.

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But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

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