Joplin family stranded in the Philippines due to Coronavirus

JOPLIN, Mo. – A family from Joplin says they’re stranded in the Philippines due to the Coronavirus.

What started as a three week vacation for one Joplin family has turned into an extended nightmare. Brittany Cobb says “They’ve been trying to get back and they’re just not able to and so we’re worried about them getting home and when they’re going to get home and how long it’s going to be stuck on this island.”

Brittany Cobb is the daughter of Terry and Paula Mitchell who are stranded along with her 17-year-old brother in the Philippines. Brittany’s other brother and his wife, Lindsey, had to contact the U.S. Embassy. Lindsey Mitchell says “The hotel owner was saying they were going to kick them out so we contacted the embassy and the embassy said they weren’t allowed to do that so then they contacted the hotel and that’s when they told our family they could stay and they would make sure they had food.”

Another issue they’re facing is retaliation against those trying to help. Lindsey says “The locals are afraid to help tourists because they will be quarantined if they have any interaction.”

The only way the family can communicate is on FaceTime and that’s how we spoke with Terry Mitchell. However, there’s nearly no cell phone reception where they are, so the quality of the calls, including our interview, aren’t that great. Terry says they’ve been trying to leave. Terry Mitchell says  “We have not been allowed to leave, they’re telling us at first that we had 24 hours to get out of the country, but we went to the airport, all the flights that we had booked were cancelled, and then we go on to book other flights and we paid for more flights and they got cancelled.”

Terry says being stuck in the Philippines isn’t the issue, it’s not knowing when they’ll finally get home. Terry says “That’s our biggest concern is how long, if we knew a day that we could come home, even if it’s three weeks from now that would be fine, but right now it just keeps getting delayed and it doesn’t seem like there’s any letting up on it.”

Additionally, since officials want the tourists and visitors off the island, anyone left, is being restricted on what they can do. Terry says “Here the police force isn’t allowing anybody to go anywhere or do anything and we were on the beach yesterday and they showed up and we all had to leave and go back to our rooms.”

And what makes it harder, there’s virtually no outside communication. Terry says “I think that’s the other thing there is no TV or news or nothing over here, we don’t know what’s going on.”

The family says the U.S. Embassy told them they can’t help get them off the island, but they’re hopeful there will be flights leaving in the coming days.