Coronavirus impacts the local community


Ramon Andrade

Homestead alumnus was quarantined in Wuhan, China as a result of the coronavirus.

The coronavirus is rapidly spreading throughout many countries in the world. As of March 5, 2020, Worldometers states that coronavirus is responsible for 3,311 deaths worldwide.
The disease has recently reached the United States and become a threat to Americans. According to an article published on March 3, 2020 by USA Today, “The U.S. will provide $37 million from an emergency infectious diseases fund to help 26 countries affected by COVID-19 or at high risk of its spread.”
Although the sickness has not had a large impact on Wisconsin thus far, Robin Schlei, district curriculum specialist at the Mequon-Thiensville School District, has been directly affected by the spreading disease.
Schlei’s son, Kevin, Homestead alumnus, and his girlfriend were quarantined at the university in Wuhan, China beginning on Jan. 23, 2020 as a result of the coronavirus. Kevin was teaching coding for graphic design at the university. He had been an instructor there since the end of August 2019. “There were about 16 total U.S. teachers quarantined there. A couple are still there, but they are healthy so far,” Schlei said.
Kevin was able to continue much of his daily work while in isolation despite the strict quarantine. “He spent most of his time working on his Apple apps that he sells through Apple. His girlfriend worked on studying Mandarin. They couldn’t leave their building but could go to the rooftop garden to be outside and walk around,” Schlei said.
Although he was able to work during the quarantine, other aspects of life were far from normal. Everyone in Wuhan stayed indoors as they took the quarantine extremely seriously, so the sights of the densely populated city were eerily quiet. “They saw people in hazmat suits spraying disinfectant on the streets and on the buildings. Looking outside their apartment, they just plain didn’t see any people except for those people in the hazmat suits,” Schlei said.
Eventually, Kevin and his girlfriend received notifications from the United States about evacuation flights, and they caught the last flight out of Wuhan. “When they got to the Wuhan airport for their flight, they spent about 12 hours being checked out for any signs of illness, etc. prior to boarding the plane. The airport was empty except for those who would depart on the flights and people working to prepare for the flights,” Schlei said.
After a 32-hour flight, the Americans finally arrived in the United States. They were carefully examined for signs of illness, and they returned to the base in Miramar, Calif. after testing negative for the coronavirus. “Everyone at the Miramar base was really nice and worked to make them feel at home and welcome, despite staying away from them. They were told to keep at least 6 feet away from anyone else,” Schlei said.
Kevin and his girlfriend readjusted well to life in America aside from the jetlag. They were closely monitored for changes in their health, and their temperature was recorded twice each day. “When their 14-day quarantine was over, they were issued an official certificate from the CDC indicating that they had no symptoms of coronavirus and were not deemed to be a risk,” Schlei said.
Following their release, Kevin and his girlfriend felt strange that people treated them normally, for the outside world did not know that they had just been quarantined. While spending a few days in San Diego before heading home, they heard several upsetting coronavirus jokes. “As people who lived and worked there, they’re well aware that a lot of wonderful people in China are suffering from this disease and they wish them well. The disease just isn’t something to joke about,” Schlei said.