PHOENIX - Members of a Valley family who spent weeks stuck in Wuhan following the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak are finally back in the United States.
FOX 10 first spoke with Jonny Dangerfield in late January. Dangerfield and his family travelled to Wuhan with the intention to celebrate the Chinese New Year and visit family. Dangerfield's family was originally supposed to stay for about a month.
In late January, the U.S. State Department ordered a chartered flight for a limited number of private citizens to get back to the United States. While the Dangerfield family was chosen, the only people allowed to board was Jonny and his three kids. Dangerfield's wife, who is a permanent resident but not a naturalized citizen, was denied permission to board the flight.
With minutes to decide, the Dangerfields decided to stay in Wuhan together as a family, in a difficult decision.
"We just don't know how long it's going to be," said Jonny at the time. "We don't know if we're going to leave in a couple of days or months. A lot of uncertainty."
Eventually, it was time to return to the United States.
"We had the longest journey of everyone," said Jonny.
Jonny says the drive to the airport was usually packed with cars and people. Now, it's completely empty.
"On the way to the airport, there were folks where we had our temperature checked on the highway," said Jonny.
Jonny says about 200 people were on the U.S. Embassy evacuation flights, with masks and HAZMAT suits. The process took more than 12 hours.
"We had to go through a special customs procedure where we had our temperatures checked," said Jonny. "Not a huge deal. We were all expecting that wait. I didn't hear a lot of complaining. We were all just grateful."
Passengers were taken to military bases in California, Texas and Nebraska. Jonny and his family are now at a military base training camp in Omaha, Nebraska.
"14 days federally-mandated quarantine," said Jonny. "This is, of course, just a precaution that none of us are at risk for the coronavirus."
The process to return to the U.S. may be long, but Jonny says he's just grateful to be back.