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Tulsa Woman Stuck in Italy Amid Coronavirus

Posted at 10:24 PM, Mar 11, 2020

CHICAGO (WMAQ-TV) — As Italy stays on lock down because of the coronavirus, one Tulsa woman is stuck there, unsure of what she’ll do next, according to WMAQ-TV, an NBC station in Chicago.

“I wash my hands all the time," Jan Peppler said. "I brought with me alcohol pads and wet wipes."

That’s how Peppler is protecting herself from the coronavirus. Peppler flew to Rome last Wednesday to begin a six-week vacation.

“Nobody’s there," she said. "There was nobody at the Vatican.”

Her photos show most of Rome deserted. On her fifth night, she knew she had to get out, too.

“All night long, the woman in the room next to me had a hacking cough," she said. "That freaked me out.”

She bought a first-class train ticket to Bari, on the Adriatic Coast. An hour after arriving, she posted this on Facebook when the prime minister ordered the entire country under quarantine.

“I couldn’t see what I was supposed to do," she said. "I think I am a little more concerned about being on an airplane, going to the airport, being on an airplane, being in another airport…”

Peppler is a Chicago native who lives in Tulsa and is writing a book. She decided to stay in Italy, reserving an Airbnb for several weeks in a small town outside Palermo.

“I am not worried. At the same time, I think it’s a good thing that I’ll be in one place for four weeks, so, basically self-quarantine," she said.

Our NBC station in Chicago spoke to her via FaceTime as she had just gotten off the ferry in Sicily.

“It was very nerve-wracking to be at the port," Peppler said. "Afraid there would be police at the port.”

With the country now shut down, Peppler says Italians she’s talked to are worried.

“When I left Rome, that hotel owner said 'Please pray for us,'" she said. "Then I got to Bari and that hotel owner said the same thing. He was terrified he would lose his business.”

Peppler says she’s not in the high-risk category and is not worried about getting sick. She is supposed to travel back to the U.S. from Athens in mid-April, but is not sure how she’ll get from Italy to Greece.

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