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Boulder mom trying to scrounge up medical face masks for son working in China

Alexi Grojean in self-quarantine, plans to stay
Posted at 2:09 AM, Feb 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-02 11:52:11-05

BOULDER, Colo. -- A Boulder mom, whose son is working in China, says she's trying to scrounge up some medical face masks, since they've run out in the city of Yinchuan, and in many other large Chinese cities.

Deb Grojean said her son, Alexi, has been in Yinchaun for nearly a year, traveling, taking photographs and teaching English to Chinese students.

"I was thrilled that he was over there, and every time he got a little bit of time off, he was off to see another part of China," she said. "He's been to Beijing. He's been to Shanghai. He's been to see the Terra Cotta warriors."

Grojean said when she first heard about the coronavirus outbreak, she began to worry.

"I started suggesting, 'Alexi, I think it's time to come home,'" she said.

But Alexi defused her concerns.

During a Facetime interview with Denver7, at his mom's house, the 33-year old instructor said he feels safer being self-quarantined in his own apartment, than he would going through the airport, boarding two planes in China, and then two more in the U.S.

His mom now agrees.

"I'm a little nervous," she said, "but not as much."

HHS asks Pentagon to help prepare for returning evacuees

The Department of Health and Human Services has asked the Pentagon for help housing people returning from overseas.

The Department of Defense said it will provide housing for 1,000 people who might need to be quarantined, when they return from overseas travel.

The Pentagon said it will provide that support at four military installations, including Fort Carson, in Colorado Springs.

Grojean said he doesn't expect to use that housing, because he plans to stay in China for several more months.

Sixth Day of Self-Quarantine

The Boulder man said he is now in his sixth day of self-quarantine, and that it is starting to wear thin.

"I draw, I read, I get on the internet when my DVN is working," he said. "I talk to friends when they're up, and I take as long as I can to cook meals and make coffee."

Grojean has been posting about his experience in China on his Instagram Account.

He said he went out a few times last week and found the shopping center nearly empty.

He shot video of a highway that is normally filled with traffic, but on one stretch, he found just a single bus and motorcycle.

He said he's amazed at the steps taken by the Chinese government to contain the disease. He said health workers are taking the temperature of every passenger deboarding a plane, and of those moving through the airport.

He said it's the same in town.

"There was a checkpoint right outside of town, where they stopped every single car, and checked the temperature of every single passenger, of every single car," he said.

He added that if any country can handle the outbreak, it's China, because people there do what the government tells them to do.

"Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, I don't know," he said. "I think right now, it's really good."

When asked when he might come home, Grojean replied that that he wants to stay.

He said there is much more to see and experience in China, so he plans to continue teaching and traveling.

He said he likes Yinchuan and its people.

"I really like being here," he said, "and I'm really hopeful that life will resume here sooner rather than later."

He also said he wouldn't feel right going back to Colorado right now.

"In a way, I'd feel like I'd be abandoning my friends here in China," he said. "My Chinese friends. They can't leave. They have no where to go, they're stuck in their apartment as well."

He said some things get over-hyped and that while the coronavirus outbreak is serious, there have only been 300 plus fatalities in a county of over 1.4 billion people.

He told his mom during the Facetime interview that the only thing he worries about, is running out of coffee.