Evanston man stranded in Enshi, China amid novel coronavirus outbreak

CHICAGO (WLS) -- An Evanston man is stranded in China due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, locked down in a busy urban center he says is now a ghost town.

Hundreds of other Americans have evacuated a cruise ship in Japan. More than a dozen of them tested positive for the virus and are quarantined.

Kurt Mitenbuler isn't quarantined, but he is living on lockdown in an apartment with his wife Wu Xuemei.

"We are allowed to actually go out and walk around the compound," he said. "But we can't leave the compound."

To get an idea of the situation, he says to imagine the Kennedy Expressway looks like this: "No cars. No traffic. No people. Desolation."

"You have to understand, on any given day in the middle of the day, these broad six and eight lane boulevards are paced with cars," Mitenbuler explained. "When we could still drive around, even my brother-in-law was like 'I've never seen it like this.' There's no people. It's unbelievable."

Mitenbuler is stuck in Enshi City, more than 300 miles west of Wuhan, the epicenter of the Chinese virus outbreak.

He was with his wife and family traveling around the country when the novel coronavirus was beginning to spread.

"And my wife and in-laws were like, we need to get back to Enshi," he said.

They returned, and haven't left since.

"And we are now at what I would describe as, like, peak lockdown," said Mitenbuler. "Nothing is moving."

Mitenbuler believes the Chinese government is making progress, but he's missing home.

"Just being able to walk down to the lake and hang out. And just be normal. Y'know. And not have guys in uniform telling me what I can and can't do," he said.

Mitenbuler said he does not know when he'll be allowed to return to America.
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