Italy has more than 21,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, second only to China. On Saturday alone, 175 people died, CNN reports. All churches, schools, restaurants and shops are closed, except for drugstores and grocery stores. Airports are shutting down. Newt Gingrich, who's living in Italy, says the nation did not overreact in taking those steps. After watching the government's response to the outbreak, Gingrich says he sees lessons there for the US in how to deal with the spread of the coronavirus. "The sooner you act, the fewer lives you will lose and the less damage you will do to your economy," the former House speaker writes in Newsweek. He's living in Italy now because his wife, Callista, is US ambassador to the Vatican.
A Republican, Gingrich praises the travel restrictions imposed by President Trump. He writes that Trump's moves have given the nation time to get ahead of the worst of the outbreak. On the health care front, Gingrich says, the task force led by Vice President Mike Pence should come up with a worst-case scenario and then work back from that to keep the outbreak from getting that bad. The focus should be on ensuring there are enough ventilators, masks, intensive care beds and treatment meds, he says. The economic needs include a growth package that goes beyond a stimulus plan, Gingrich writes—something that invests in development to leave the US with a larger, more productive economy when the pandemic is over. "Faced with a pandemic threat," Gingrich says, "history teaches us it is far better to be over prepared than underprepared." (Read more coronavirus stories.)