Italy's ferocious new COVID wave no longer registers as a national tragedy

In the countryside of Sicily, Calogero Bontempo, 73, contracted the virus and at first seemed mainly fatigued. But then he complained of blurred vision. And his breathing worsened. His pacemaker seemed to be having problems, too. A relative called the medics, a team arrived in body suits, and soon Bontempo was on his way to the closest coronavirus hospital — 90 minutes away.

He died just after being given a room.

“I am still psychologically shaken,” said Vanessa Carcione, 24, his granddaughter, who took the call from the hospital.

Bontempo’s burial was live-streamed, just a quick blessing with no in-person guests. Before his casket was placed in the ground, the hearse drove past his home, where his wife, who was also positive, watched through the glass pane of the front door.

“She was screaming,” Carcione said.