A Louisiana man who was on board the commercial flight back to the US from coronavirus-struck China has revealed the inside of the hotel room where they are now being held in quarantine in California.
Patrick ‘Randy’ Stockstill, 38, and his family live in Rhode Island.
His wife Ping is Chinese and they had taken their two young children to her hometown of Yichang, 200 miles west of Wuhan, for the Lunar New Year when coronavirus swept the nation and put entirely cities on lock down.
They were able to get themselves seats on a government-commissioned plane that flew 125 Americans out of China on Tuesday.
Stockstill has been hit with a bill of $4,400 for the family of four, including their two young children, to get out.
Now, they are being held at the March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California, for three days to be cleared.
They will then be able to return home.
On Wednesday morning, the family appeared on Good Morning America via Skype from the air base.
This is the room on the March Air Base in California where Patrick Stockstill is being kept with his wife and their two young children after returning to the US from Wuhan, the epicentre of the deadly coronavirus
One of Stockstill’s two young children playing inside the air base. The family said they are being made ‘comfortable’ and are eager to ‘wait out’ the next three days
Stockstill, his wife Ping and their two young children were in China, in his wife’s hometown, celebrating Lunar New Year when the virus spread
They said they’d been made to feel ‘comfortable’ at the base and that they had everything they needed.
‘They’re doing a good job making us feel comfortable,’ Stockstill said.
The family were lucky to get seats on the plane. First priority went to US diplomats, he said, and there are still hundreds more Americans who are stranded in the US.
‘I’ve never seen a plane set up like that before. It was a wide open cargo plane with passenger seats it felt like something out of a movie,’ Stockstill said of the flight.
Others have told how medics checked passengers every few hours throughout the flight.
Now that they are on the air base, they are not allowed to leave their rooms.
They have food and water but they have to ‘wait it out’ for three days before being cleared for onward travel.
‘We’re hoping to get back home this weekend,’ he said.
Stockstill also shared photographs from the State Department flight his family was abe to go on. He said it was a cargo plane that had been specially fitted with wide seats and that they were checked over every few hours
Medics in hazmat suits performed checks on the people on the plane every few hours. It was a cargo plane which had been specially kitted out for the journey, he said
His sister is now raising money for the family via a GoFundMe page to help them come up with the funds for their flights back from China and, eventually, their flights from California to Rhode Island.
Stockstill made pleas for help on social media before the family learned they were among the few to get seats on the plane.
Stockstill’s wife with their youngest child. No one in his family has been found to have the virus but they still have to wait to be cleared
‘Our original flight out was scheduled for Friday 1/31, however Hubei province (where we are) is locked down. Highways and most backroads are closed, trains aren’t running and the airport is now shut down.
‘There is a plane chartered by the state department we could possible get on tomorrow from Wuhan. It has a 230-seat capacity. First priority is for diplomats and their families.
‘Any extra space will be provided to US citizens with priority to those who are most at risk.
‘We are being considered for those spots but have to hear back from the American Citizen Services group with a definite yes. We have food, water, and shelter. We have top of the line medical masks being delivered to us this morning through one of Pings connections here.
‘We are safe, but we really want to get on that plane,’ he said on January 26.
Other US families remain in China.
The couple appeared on Good Morning America on Thursday from the airbase and said they felt happy to be back in the US
Personnel in hazmat suits greet the people coming off the State Department plane in Riverside, California, on Wednesday
Priscilla Dickey and her daughter Hermione are still in Wuhan after being stopped from boarding a seat on the flight because the eight-year-old did not have her passport.
Priscilla and her ex-partner, James, moved to China from Tennessee to work as teachers. They split in 2017 but co-parent.
When roads and railways began shutting down last week because of the virus, Hermione had a fever. Her mother was desperate to get her out of the country and was able to get them on the US State Department flight.
However her passport was with her father, in his apartment, 250 miles away. With no way in or out of Wuhan, the family was left with no choice but to just photocopy it and hope the State Department would let her board.
They were sent home from the airport and now have to wait for the roadblocks to be lifted.
Hermione was cleared at the airport – she does not have the virus.
Despite her frustration at not being allowed on the plane, Priscilla told The Washington Post how much she admired the Chinese immigration officials working round the clock to help get the US citizens out of the country on the government plane.
‘I do have to give it to the Chinese though.
A couple in Wuhan walk the streets on January 30. The city is on lockdown
‘These guys were working at the airport so we could all leave. They were working. It’s a holiday. There’s a quarantine in place. Everything’s shut down. But yet they were there working for us until 3 a.m,’ she said.
Another State Department flight is expected to send more planes to Wuhan as early as Monday to get the remaining Americans out of Wuhan.
US citizens with a valid passport who are stuck are asked to email CoronaVirusEmergencyUSC@State.gov with their information to try to get seats on those planes.
So far, 170 people have died as a result of the killer virus which originated in a seafood market in Wuhan.
The World Health Organisation is meeting on Thursday to decide whether or not to declare a global health emergency.
There are five confirmed cases of the virus in the United States.
Road blocks in Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have originated at a seafood market