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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Longtime Presque Isle High School teacher Trevor Esposito had meticulously followed the COVID-19 pandemic as it spread across China. Soon, he found it entering his new home in Italy.
Fearing for the future, he went to the store with his wife on March 4 to stock up on Tylenol and other necessities. All of Italy was under a national quarantine order within five days.
“It was just fast,” Esposito said. “As soon as they shut it down, we knew that this was going to be for a long while.”
More than 50 days later, Esposito, 44, and his family have seldom trekked out of their gated community 25 minutes west of Naples. His wife is working from home, his children among the millions now engaged in distance learning.
Meanwhile, Italy has become one of the world’s epicenters of the disease, trailing only Spain and the United States in total cases. Nearly 28,000 have died from symptoms — the most in Europe. Though new cases have begun to decline, the country remains under strict quarantine orders.
He and his family have been “fortunate” enough to not be personally hurt by the disease. Still, it was far from the 2020 that Esposito had imagined for his first full year in Western Europe.
After studying multiple foreign languages in college, he had taught Spanish and later French at Presque Isle High School from 2007 to 2016. His wife, a Washington County native who works in homeland security, had been posted in Houlton.
He cherished his time teaching, especially enjoying the opportunity to connect with students. But a new posting for his wife in Sweden took him out of the country in 2016. They decided to “keep the adventure going,” with a move to Naples in July of last year.
Though he has not lived in The County for four years, his eyewitness accounts of life in quarantined Italy on Facebook continue to receive engagement from Aroostook County friends 4,000 miles away.
Like many in The County, he has primarily used quarantine to spend time with his family. He is also considering writing another book.
He has already written two — both on popular video game series — during his time in Europe: “Tony Hawk’s Gaming Domination” about the “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater” series in 2018 and “Street Fighter Compendium: A Definitive History” about the “Street Fighter” series last month.
He has rarely left his home besides occasional trips for food and supplies. On March 19, he went out to the store — only to be turned away while in line because he wasn’t wearing a mask. Given a mask by his neighbor, he was able to return and check out successfully.
As Esposito waits on a return to normalcy in Italy, he continues to follow the global trajectory of COVID-19. He said he was discouraged by fierce opposition to stay-at-home orders from some in his home country.
An Augusta rally on Monday, April 20, was organized by state Rep. Chris Johansen, R-Monticello, a town Esposito used to drive through when he commuted from Houlton to Presque Isle.
“I saw how fast things happened here — it makes me nervous,” said Esposito, who plans to move back to the United States with his family next year. “I don’t think anyone is mandating you to stay home because of malice.”
Watch: How does COVID-19 spread?