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“I’m Very Scared”: A 30-Year-Old Mom Confronts Coronavirus | Inside Italy's COVID War

18 May 2020
Scenes from an unprecedented new FRONTLINE documentary filmed inside an Italian hospital show the wrenching battle against COVID-19 up close -- as doctors are forced to make life-and-death decisions, and as a young mother of three confronts the virus.

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Directed with astonishing intimacy by award-winning filmmaker Sasha Joelle Achilli, who was born and raised in northern Italy and returned there to document the coronavirus fight, "Inside Italy’s COVID War" follows Dr. Francesca Mangiatordi and her staff as they battle COVID-19 in a region that’s at the epicenter of the country’s outbreak — as the volume of cases becomes unmanageable, and as younger and younger patients fall ill.

Among them is Cristel, a 30-year-old mother of three young girls, whom we meet in the above excerpt as she waits at the hospital for a CT scan. She’s heard that the virus is most lethal for the elderly, so she’s hopeful about her chances for survival. “But I’m very scared,” she says.

Once she’s had the scan, that fear mounts. Cristel begs the nurse pushing her wheelchair to be honest with her about whether the damage to her lungs is serious: “Tell me. I’ve got three girls,” she says. “Tell me the truth.”

The nurse can’t answer her. But we watch as Dr. Mangiatordi views the results of Cristel’s scan, her face grim. A fairly widespread area of the young woman’s lung is not functioning.

“There’s no doubt that the test will come back positive,” the doctor says. “She's 30 years old. Healthy. It’s no longer true that it’s affecting just the elderly.”

Watch "Inside Italy's COVID War" starting Tues., May 19:


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Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Major funding for FRONTLINE is provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Ford Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Abrams Foundation, the Park Foundation, The John and Helen Glessner Family Trust, and the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation.
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