As coronavirus cases rise, Chicagoans rush home from overseas

CHICAGO (WLS) -- As the novel coronavirus spreads across the globe, Chicagoans are rushing to get back to the United States. It's proving to be a challenge.
Just days ago, Shannon Wysocki boarded a boat in Venice, Italy, traveling the beautiful, scenic canals. But this journey wasn't for fun; it was race to return home.

"I'm very sad," Wysocki said, reflecting on the moment she left Venice. "How beautiful the city is and how devastated it had become because of this virus."

Once she got to the Venice airport, it was an empty scene. She took a selfie; her eyes looked serious, her face covered with a mask.

"My mind was so focused on getting me home, and it was even more so once I got to the airport," she said.

But it wasn't that easy. Italian officials peppered her with questions about leaving Venice. Where did she stay? A hotel? An apartment? Was she working? Was she on vacation?

(For the record, Wysocki had planned to spend a month in Italy, even renting an apartment. She wanted to spend time writing.)

But the officials kept questioning her.

"My heart was beating out of my chest. I didn't know what answers they were looking for and I just answered honestly," she said.

Wysocki wasn't the only traveler going through a stressful journey to return to the United States. Homer Glen residents Angela Kamely and her husband were celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary in South Africa. Their daughter was there as well.

With COVID-19 spreading quickly and a sick relative back in the states, the couple hustled to get home. They traveled from South Africa to Oman; Oman to Qatar; and then Qatar to Chicago.

"Even though you know you're going to be sequestered or quarantined when you get home, you just want to be home. If I am going to be quarantined, I want to be quarantined at my house," said Kamely, who also raised concerns about entering the country and not being checked by healthcare workers.

For Wysocki, it was a different experience. She flew from Venice to Rome, where she spent the night, flying out to New York City the morning. At John F. Kennedy International Airport, passengers had to wait to get off the plane.

"As you are on the jet bridge, it is just lined on both sides with medical workers that are preparing to take your temperature," she said.

Wysocki had a five-hour layover at JFK. Once on her flight to Chicago and back home, she felt relieved.

"I felt like I was given a big hug to be home, to be comforted in my own space. It's beyond words," she said.

For now, Wysocki and Kamely are self-quarantined for two weeks. At this point, both of them feel healthy.
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