Tommaso Rossin

Lander junior Tommaso Rossin hits a backhand during a match this season. Rossin is from Aosta, Italy.

Lander junior Tommaso Rossin said he is “living this through the phone” as the coronavirus continues to kill thousands in his home country.

Rossin, whose season with the Lander tennis team ended early because of concerns about the virus’ spread, hails from Aosta Valley, a town of about 35,000 that lies in the northern part near the Switzerland border and the Swiss Alps.

Days of reading the news reports and hearing each day from family about the situation have been difficult. Rossin made the decision to stay in Greenwood as the virus spreads quickly in America.

“It is definitely a stressful situation, because back home they’re about to reach the peak,” Rossin said. “They’re not scared, but almost scared, because they’re starting to see the people who are going to get treated and who is not going to get treated, because the hospitals are full and lots of people are dying.”

Aosta Valley, which currently has 408 cases of coronavirus, is one of the least stricken areas in the country, albeit not as populous as nearby cities Milan and Turin, which have been hit hardest. Coronavirus deaths in Italy have exceeded 8,000.

Rossin said he had heard from his family about COVID-19 setting in in Italy weeks before it started to seriously affect the United States.

“They (family) were saying, ‘Be careful, respect the rules, wash your hands, stay away from people.’ The basic rules you’re supposed to follow,” Rossin said.

“But everything here was fine, so nobody really cared about it. So it was kind of tough to do that while everybody else wasn’t doing it. My mom was like, ‘Stay away from people, and I was like ‘OK, but how am I supposed to do that when I go to school or I go to the (cafeteria) and I have to eat with 100 people in there and I have to touch the plates and the forks.”

Rossin’s mother, a professor, teaches online classes. His family, like all others in Italy, are not allowed to leave the home unless for an essential reason. Rossin said his grandparents have been at home for weeks and are taking precautions because hospitals are full.

Rossin said he hopes his home country can be an example for the urgency of the virus.

“I hope other people in the States will look at that and say, ‘I don’t want it to be like that here,’” Rossin said. “And then instead of waiting for it an taking precautions once we get to that point, it would be nice to do it right now and prevent it. Even if it’s not going to be as bad as it is back home, it wouldn’t be bad to stay home and not go out.”

Now that the virus has hit the United States, Rossin’s plans to take the Medical College Admission Test and pursue internships have been put on hold. He’s weighing his options and planning to return to Lander’s tennis team next season.

As a student interested in one day becoming a health professional, Rossin is also trying to learn from the pandemic.

“We have assignments and discussions on viruses and the coronavirus,” Rossin said. “It’s just crazy. There’s not much you can do, you just have to do those little things that can help everybody else. If you can stay home and not get sick and not get everybody else sick, that’s the best you can do.”

Contact sports writer Skylar Rolstad at 864-223-1813 or follow him on Twitter @SkyRolSports.