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Thousands Of U.S. Citizens Ride Out Pandemic In Foreign Countries


As the pandemic spread, thousands of American citizens who were abroad came home - not everyone, though. For some Americans, staying put made more sense.

ERIN MCMILLAN GUSTAFSON: With early lockdown measures, it just felt a little bit more sane and safe, to be honest, to be here.


Erin McMillan Gustafson (ph) has lived with her husband and three sons in Copenhagen for the past five years.

MCMILLAN GUSTAFSON: There's a lot of trust in the government here and a lot of trust between citizens in Scandinavia, especially in Denmark.

MARTIN: Ai Twong (ph) considered going home. In the end, he decided to ride things out in Tokyo.

AI TWONG: I have to go back to the U.S., where I don't have state-sponsored health insurance, where I don't have work to get me health insurance. Like, it doesn't seem like it would be any better to go home.

GREENE: As the United States nears 100,000 deaths from COVID-19, many expats are worried about their loved ones back home.

LEE MIDDLETON: Yeah, I'm worried about my parents, and I want to see them. But at the same time, you know, you don't want to endanger them further.

MARTIN: Lee Middleton is a journalist based in Cape Town, South Africa. The city has been ravaged by the virus.

MIDDLETON: You can't go anywhere, basically. It's like house arrest, essentially. I mean, I say that supporting the government's choice to do so. But yeah, that's where we are.

MARTIN: But Ai Twong is staying optimistic.

MIDDLETON: We'll get through this. Everything is going to be OK. It won't be the same, but we'll be OK.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.