American Who Completed Coronavirus Quarantine Recalls Time in Wuhan: ‘It Was Scary’

February 28, 2020 Updated: February 29, 2020
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An American man who completed a two-week quarantine in California after being evacuated from Wuhan, China, appeared on television on Friday and briefly recounted what happened when the virus first emerged in the city of approximately 11 million.

“It was scary,” Frank Wucinski, a Pennsylvania resident, said on Fox News’s “America’s Newsroom.”

“You didn’t know what was happening, what was going on,” he added.

Wucinski was among one of the first groups to be evacuated on charted State Department flights from Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus. The evacuees were quarantined at military bases in California while being monitored for signs of COVID-19, the disease the new virus causes.

Wucinski said on social media that his wife, Li Qiong, is still in China. He was told non-American citizens could not board the flight and she was taking care of her father until he died earlier this month. Qiong later tested positive for the virus but is recovering, he said on Twitter.

“On the one hand I know it was a good thing we’ve did but on the other hand there is a feeling of guilt,” he told KPBS earlier this month. “That I’ve left my wife probably at the worst time of her life.”

Wucinski and his 3-year-old daughter, Annabel, were isolated at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego. They were released on Feb. 20. Most Americans evacuated from China or Japan have been released after being isolated for two weeks. Federal officials have said they present no danger to the general public.

A plane carrying evacuees from the virus zone in China
A plane carrying evacuees from the virus zone in China lands at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, Calif., on Feb. 5, 2020. (Gregory Bull/AP Photo)

Appearing on Fox on Friday, Wucinski said things were going well.

“Physically, we’re great. It’s good to be with family. It’s nice to be out of quarantine.”

Annabel hasn’t gone to school or daycare yet, he said, citing high costs.

Wucinski recounted arriving in the United States from China and was immediately put into isolation because of their contact with his wife’s father. They were later allowed to be with other evacuees but were isolated again after staff members saw Annabel coughing.

Both the father and daughter tested negative for COVID-19 multiple times. They still take temperature readings every day. The Pennsylvania man is working on getting insurance as his work insurance doesn’t cover him in the United States.

Wucinski expressed hope for the future and said he understands people fearing the new virus. Coughing toward the end of the interview, he emphasized he was tested twice and the results were negative both times. He attributed the coughing to being nervous.

Wucinski re-opened a fundraiser on GoFundMe he had closed after receiving enough donations because he recently started getting medical bills from the stay in isolation, he said.

“Although I assumed all medical bills from our time in quarantine would be paid by the government, it turns out that I am financially responsible for the six days Annabel and I spent in isolation at the hospital,” he wrote. Most of his and Annabel’s clothing is still in China and the family doesn’t have access to their bank account there with him out of the country and his wife in quarantine.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber