Americans return from quarantine in Peru, appalled at lack of precautions in U.S.


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Several people from the Cape Fear were among the thousands of Americans stuck in Peru amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.

Two Wilmington couples were quarantined for two weeks, and finally made it home just days ago. When they did finally make it back, they were even more surprised to see the lack of precautions people were taking in the U.S.

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“We landed in Miami and there was nothing,” Helen Grubb, who was stuck in Peru with her husband, said. “There was no screening at all. There wasn’t anybody taking temperatures. Literally nothing.”

Michael Goins was also stuck in the country with his wife. When he stepped foot back on U.S. soil, he says he was appalled.

“When I walked through customs, was not checked for temperature,” Goins said. “Was asked no questioned about Coronavirus.”

Both Grubb and Goins say they had to undergo strict health screenings and procedures when leaving Peru, but not when they were coming back into the U.S.

“I’m blown away,” Grubb said. “Honestly, I’m blown away at how little the United States is doing to prevent the spread of the virus.”

Grubb and her husband first landed in Peru just days before the two-week quarantine was ordered by the government. During their quarantine, she says the way Peru looked in comparison to the U.S. is like night and day.

“They had police and military policing the streets, and they would stop you and ask you what you were out for,” she said.

Grubb says they were only allowed out for essential groceries, the pharmacy and medical emergencies.

“I mean, I stepped outside of our hotel just to get some fresh air one day, and the police officers yelled at me to go back inside,” she said.

If you were out, every single person had to wear a mask, whether they felt sick or not. Grubb says police would send you home or take you to the nearest pharmacy to get one.

“Again, the police will stop you if you don’t and ask ‘Mascara? Mascara?'” Grubb said.

Goins experienced the same thing and says the rules were strictly enforced.

“It was no nonsense, in terms of the troops were on the street,” he said.

Wilmington Health’s Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Paul Kamitsuka says in other countries, just the masks can make a difference.

“Even though a mask may have limited effectiveness in terms of protecting you from someone else, it will protect them from you,” Kamitsuka said.

Kamitsuka says we would be protecting other from ourselves by each wearing masks.

“Even though the evidence for reducing your chance of getting it from someone else who doesn’t have a mask is more limited, at least we’re protecting them from us,” he said.

Grubb says if she goes out at all back here in the U.S., she’s going to be wearing a face mask whether other people are or not.

“I felt safer in Peru than I did in the United States.,” she said.