‘Wow, I’m outside’: Evanston man who is stranded in China no longer under COVID-19 lockdown

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WUHAN, China — A warm and sunny march day makes it hard to stay inside, even with a shelter in place order on the books.

In China, authorities took limitations seen around the United States to a new level. Some argue it worked as coronavirus now moves out of that region and residents step out of their homes.

Kurt Mittenbuller is an Evanston man who was in China, in a town about 300 miles west of Wuhan, during their most strict stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 outbreak. He said when he was finally able to go outside after two months, he felt emotional.

“I found myself tearing up on a couple of occasions,” he said. “‘Wow, I’m outside. I can do something.’”

(kurt mittenbuller, evanston native stuck in china 8:11 “when i could finally bust out after 2 months, it was emotional. i found myself tearing up on a couple of occasions. :19 wow, i’m outside, i can do something.”:21

The virus spread and radical isolation kept him and his wife indoors with family when they started a vacation in China last December. After what they’ve been through, Mittenbuller and his family are appreciating the little things.

The hammer came down in mid-January — signs of the virus curtailed their trip. He’s been inside, following government’s orders ever since. He thinks the extreme limitations made the difference in stomping out the spread of coronavirus

“As ugly as it is, everybody staying put is how you solve this thing,” he said. “Because it is ridiculously contagious.”

Dr. Bill Muller muller is an infectious disease specialist with Lurie Children’s Hospital. He agrees radical isolation is one productive step, but likely not a realistic one in the U.S.

“To separate people would decrease the chances someone will catch infections from someone else.”

While the term radical isolation has no real definition, according the doctor, it would mean doing more, or actually less, depending on how you look at it, than we are doing now. He said he doesn’t think Americans would tolerate that kind of isolation.

“It would certainly be a challenge. I don’t doubt there would be a benefit in terms of being exposed to infection,” he said.

An infection Mittenbuller is happy to put in his past, even while he’s waiting to get out of China and home to where the infection is still spreading by the hour.

“The plus side here is it seems to be beaten here. And it got beaten because everyone complied and did the smart thing,” Mittenbuller said.

Muller believes Americans would not be accepting of involuntary limitations taken to the next level.

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