Coronavirus fears keep one Utah woman from returning home

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SALT LAKE CITY — One woman is stuck in Utah and unsure when she will be able to return home to China due to fears over the coronavirus.

Constance Lieber moved to China with her husband over five years ago for his work.

She said they live in the city of Hangzhou, which currently has the second-largest outbreak of the virus. Around 10 million people live in the city.

She said early on, things started slowing down.

“My husband’s business … people stopped going into the business because they were scared,” she said. “Everyone was scared because no one really knew. People got more and more scared as time went on. There were more and more people in (the) Zhejiang (Province), who had the coronavirus. And then the government shut everything down.”

Lieber gets a window into what’s going on back home through the social media app WeChat. She was able to avoid being confined to her apartment like so many others.

But she said she almost didn’t make it out of the country as checkpoints brought traffic to a halt while they were heading to the airport in Shanghai.

“They wanted to see our papers and make sure we weren’t from Wuhan,” Lieber said. “They would have made us turn around. (They) took our temperature and then let us go through. That’s when we knew things were getting serious.”

(They) took our temperature and then let us go through. That's when we knew things were getting serious.

–Constance Lieber

Lieber barely made her flight but now she’s stuck here in Utah, living with two of her adult children while she waits for the outbreak to calm down.

“It has to loosen up or the economy will collapse,” she said. “They have to get the factories working again, and the people back to work. Everyone’s so nervous.”

Despite the scare, Lieber said she’s eager to get back.


“I have mixed feelings,” she said. “I feel like why am I here when all my friends are there, and then, of course, life is day-to-day because I can’t plan very far, not knowing what I can do.

“My husband’s sitting in Taiwan, just waiting until he can return and get the business going again and I’m sitting here, not knowing when I can return because Delta’s not flying.”

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Mike Anderson
Mike Anderson often doubles as his own photographer, shooting and editing most of his stories. He came to KSL in April 2011 after working for several years at various broadcast news outlets.


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