TULSA, Okla. — A Tulsa woman quarantined in Italy for the past month is now worried about coming home.
Jan Peppler arrived in Italy for a nearly six-week trip on March 9, the day after the Italian Prime Minister put the country on lockdown. Almost a month later, Peppler said not much has changed.
“I do see more people out on the streets now," Peppler said. "At the same time, there are more police patrolling and making sure that people are out for legitimate reasons.”
Peppler’s photos show empty streets in the small Sicilian town of Balestrate. Everyone has been instructed to stay home except for essential errands or risk being stopped by police.
“His comment to me was, 'Where do you live?'" Peppler said. "'Do you live in Balestrate or do you live in the United States?' And I said I live in the United States. And he said, 'But why are you here now?' And, you know, that was a really good question.”
She decided it would be safer to stay in Italy.
“There is this universal understanding that whatever one person does affects the entire country," she said.
Italy’s lockdown is currently set to expire April 13. Her return flight is booked for April 15. But, at a time when travel is not recommended, it would be a journey of public transport and flights through four different countries.
“Do I risk going through five airports and all that exposure to come back to Tulsa that hasn’t even begun to feel the brunt of this virus?," she said.
Peppler is in Italy to work on a book about home and how you find it anywhere. Though through it all, her Tulsa home is where she wants to be.
“As concerned as I am about how the United States is handling this, I want to be there with my family, with my friends, even if we’re all self-isolated," she said.
As she prepares for a potential return home, Peppler said she's learned a few things from the Italians.
“The lesson from Italy: cooperation, compassion and solidarity," she said. "And I think all of us in the United States really need to gather around those three things.”
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