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North Texas family stationed in Italy hopes US heeds COVID-19 warnings

"Swallow your pride and do what is right," said Amber Matthews who is stationed with her family in Italy. She emphasizes the need for social distancing.

FRISCO, Texas — Amber Matthews has had a bird's eye view of the novel coronavirus and its impact on Italy. 

The University of North Texas graduate would normally call Frisco her home. 

But home is relative when you realize she's part of a military family. Matthews' husband is a chaplain in the Army and they are based out of Italy. 

She says she knows full well the devastation that the coronavirus can wreak on communities.

"The streets are completely empty. There's nobody in Rome, nobody in Milan, and nobody in Venice," Matthews said. 

The novel coronavirus is devouring Italy. 

Matthews and everyone around her is hopeful Italy is on the descent of the virus bell curve. But still, there are thousands of new cases and lately 400 to 800 deaths per day.

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Just before all this struck Italy in January, the Matthews family of four got orders to report to the United States. 

"All of our pictures were off the wall. We were packed up and ready to leave," she said.

When Italy shut down, so did their chances of returning. Now, the family will wait and see what the Prime Minister's travel orders are and how the U.S. is faring with the virus.

"It actually feels safer to be staying put," she said.

Matthews is genuinely worried the American public hasn't moved fast enough to combat the virus. 

Italy shut down close to six weeks ago. Meanwhile in Texas counties are on a slow roll-out of emergency declarations.

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"Swallow your pride and do what is right," she said. "I don't think people are getting it. They want to see what the world around them is doing."

All of Italy has been under strict orders to stay home. Shops and restaurants are all closed and the Matthews only visit the supermarket every two weeks.

The schools across the country shut down in mid-February. Their two children are currently being home-schooled and find creative ways to occupy their time. 

Amber says people in Italy are so sociable and have large connected families that this physical distancing has been very difficult for many of them.

"At some point, you have to determine what human life is worth versus a paycheck," she said.

There are banners are flying at home all across the country. The banners hung from homes and over railings read "Andrà tutto bene," which translates to "Everything is going to be alright." 

She is hopeful everything will be alright; not just for Italy but her home country as well.

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