"Italy is a very sobering experience," Gingrich says. "Everything is closed down. The only thing that is open are grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations."
Italy has been the epicenter of the European outbreak of the coronavirus. About 70,000 people have had positive COVID-19 tests. Nearly 1-in-10 infections are among health care workers in the country.
"They have very strict rules about walking or driving. If you don't have a good reason to be doing it, you can be fined $8,000. They've really gone all-out to get ahead of the virus."
The U.S. embassy staff, including Mrs. Gingrich, have been working remotely.
"We've been here at the house for 10 days now," Newt Gingrich says. "We've really steadily restricted over the last two months as the virus grew."
He says they are still meeting friends socially, using Skype to video chat instead of meeting in person.
He says they are "trying to have a life a little more than just hiding in your room but we are basically are stuck in our house."
Gingrich was supposed to be in New York on Wednesday to promote his new book. He talked with Good Day New York via video chat instead of appearing on the show in-person.
"We take seriously how dangerous this can be," he said.