In February, the coronavirus outbreak began ravaging Italy. In a matter of days entire cities were quarantined in the north, and in those that weren’t the number of cases began to rise rapidly. Hospitals quickly became overwhelmed, and reports prepared people for the eventuality that doctors might run out of ventilators and be forced to decide which patients to try and save and which to let die.
People mobilized quickly to donate to hospitals, and as the emergency spread across the country, many crowdfunding campaigns cropped up, including on GoFundMe. The platform, which lets users raise and donate money for a range of causes, and which had an Italian presence prior to the emergency, now lists hundreds of campaigns related to the coronavirus—mostly aiming to raise at least tens of thousands of euros, and often much more.
Overwhelmingly, Italian campaigns aren’t launched to pay for medical expenses associated with the disease—Italy offers government-funded universal health coverage—but to support existing institutions fighting the epidemic. From Bergamo—the city worst-hit by the pandemic—to Milan, Rome, and the southern cities, where cases are still fewer than the north, people have started campaigns to buy more ventilators, protective gear, and other supplies for hospitals.