EDWARDSVILLE - Metro East Lutheran graduate Katherine Lange, an Edwardsville native, recently miraculously returned home safe and sound from an extremely stressful time in Italy, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. She is now experiencing quarantine because of her travels. She has not yet tested positive for the coronavirus but is staying away from family and the public as a precaution.

Lange left Rome just days ago. And, is now thankful to be staying with her sister at a local, family farmhouse. Her original flight back to America was canceled and after frantically searching for a solution, she received a flight back home from Greece.

“We were told we needed to leave the country that day or else we might not get out,” she said. “I was just attending a semester of study abroad in Rome, Italy. When I left, the entire country was on lockdown.”

Lange detailed her journey with the following vivid description:

“A few weeks ago, some of the students from our program were required to leave the country due to Italy being placed on Level 3 travel advisory,” she said. “We all thought it was extreme and those who had a choice decided to stay because there were only three cases in Rome at the time. Little did we know that in less than two weeks we would have to escape the country. Sunday, March 15th, started the escalation of events. Tuesday, I booked a flight home on Thursday. However, in the middle of class on Wednesday, I received an email that my first flight would be canceled. Which meant I would not be able to make my connecting flight to America. I frantically started searching for flights out of the country and all of a sudden flights disappeared. Countries and airlines were closing their borders to Italy by the minute.

“One country that still had flights was Greece. We were told we needed to leave the country that day else we might not get out."

When Lange and her schoolmates finally found a flight that would not be canceled, it was headed to Massachusetts.

“We did not even have time to find a flight to my home in St. Louis. Our only goal was to get out of the country. I still find it a miracle we were able to get out. Once in the states, I found a flight to St. Louis and began a 14-day self-quarantine that ends this week. I am staying at my family's farmhouse secluded for others. What a whirlwind of an adventure that happened in less than 24 hours!“

From the coronavirus experience in Italy, I also learned these practical points that I wanted to share:

“Our government is being precautionary vs reactionary. The virus might not seem like a big deal but it can get out of hand FAST. In other countries, there’s no more equipment or space for the increase in patients. People are dying because they can’t get treatment. Those with normal emergencies (heart attacks) aren’t getting the right attention. We must slow the process so that our health centers can treat the patients coming in.

“This affects more than just yourself. You could easily spread it to someone who is at risk without knowing. It can be a tempting time to still hang out in groups, travel, and not be cautious of what we touch, but we have to step back and have a broader perspective. Many people are making sacrifices. It’s okay to mourn those small hardships. But remember people are losing so much more than we are. In Italy, the economy was already bad, to begin with. Now everyone is stuck indoors for at least a month. No jobs. Most people are paid under the table because taxes are so high, so there are no benefits at a time like this. People are separated from their loved ones. My friend can’t be with his fiancé and fears contracting the virus because of his parents' health. Everyone has to give up something.

“If this can be used to help anyone I hope my experience can shed light on the urgency of the situation and how things can change in a moment if we do not take proper precautions.”

Katherine stressed she could not have made it through such stressful travel without the constant support of her parents - Jon and Tami Lange. She provided them a tremendous salute of thanks for their help in getting her home during the pandemic.

The MELHS grad's quarantine at the farm ends late this week, at which time she will finally be able to return home. She said the farm has been a good place for quarantine because she had the opportunity to go for walks and enjoy the outdoors.

Katherine closed with some important words of wisdom from her experience that many seem to have forgotten about the coronavirus pandemic:

“Let’s think of others before ourselves,” Katherine said. “It is time to think of neighbors we don’t even know and our country.”

Text @RB to 618-202-4618 to sign up for Text Alerts from RiverBender!

If you have a news, human interest or sports idea, e-mail Danbrannan@riverbender.com or call or text 618-623-5930. Follow Dan Brannan on Facebook and on Twitter.

Print Version