OSHKOSH, Wis. (WFRV) As the world tries to respond to the spreading coronavirus pandemic, a former Oshkosh resident finds himself stranded in Peru. We spoke with the man who is waiting for the U.S. government to provide the transportation needed to return home.
Paul Johnson is anxious to return home. But he needs the help of the U.S. government to make that happen.
Johnson flew to Peru on March 8th on a business trip to the remote Village of Pisac. He says when he left the coronavirus was in the news, but it wasn’t being called a pandemic.
“I think there were two cases in Peru when I left. The U.S. still hadn’t instituted any quarrentine,” Johnson said.
Days later, the U.S. banned all flights from Europe and Peru put in place its own travel ban.
“The Peruvian government gave us one day to get out, right before they closed the borders,” he said.
Since then Johnson has been staying calm, following Peru’s restrictions and waiting for word from the U.S. with instructions on how to get back home.
“They have been sending flights, about 1,000 Americans have gotten out in the last week – that’s mostly from Lima,” Johnson said.
But Johnson says more flights are needed for hundreds of Americans, desperate to return home. And he needs safe passage to an airport from his current remote location.
“I’m sure they are working hard, but it’s not working at the moment. So that’s the frustration for everybody here,” Johnson said.
“We’re still sitting here wondering what’s going to happen.”
Jay Schmick wants his stepson back on U.S. soil and has asked Senator Ron Johnson’s office for help.
“Hopefully we’re going to see the end of the tunnel here and he can get on a plane and get home,” Schmick said.
“I feel like it would be prudent to act quickly to get people out of here.” said Johnson. “That uncertainty of not knowing what’s going to happen and how soon we’ll get out is scary to some people that are here.”
Paul Johnson says there are about 2,000 Americans still in Peru. Local 5 reached out to Senator Ron Johnson’s office for a statement and he said this.
“Our office has been working nonstop for two weeks to do everything we can to get Wisconsinites stranded overseas back home. Thankfully, flights have restarted from Peru to the United States. We continue to work with the State Department to help those who still wish to come home.”