Caught in the epicenter of the coronavirus, Minneapolis man finally comes home

A man hugs and kisses his young daughter in an airport.
Yulin Yin embraces his 6-year-old daughter Emy after arriving at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Wednesday. Yin was visiting family in Wuhan, China, when the new coronavirus known as COVID-19 outbreak occurred. He was evacuated and quarantined in California for two weeks.
Evan Frost | MPR News

After a visit to his parents in Wuhan, China, unexpectedly turned upside down because of the new coronavirus now known as COVID-19, Yulin Yin was cleared to leave quarantine in California and arrived in Minnesota Wednesday.

On the drive to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Ann Yin said that if her husband hadn’t evacuated from Wuhan when he did, he might’ve had to wait for at least another month. Now, she doesn’t have to worry about that.

“I’m feeling super excited. Just really excited and relieved. It’s been so stressful — really a roller coaster of emotions,” she said.

At the airport, as 6-year-old Emy Yin saw her father come into view down the long hallway at Terminal 2, she took off in a sprint.

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Yulin bent down to embrace his little girl. She read from a card she made to welcome him home.

“Thank you. Did you miss daddy?”

“Yes,” Emy said.

Ann was not far behind and joined in the group hug — her eyes moist with tears. Yulin’s large suitcase was already rolling down the baggage carousel, so there were no more delays.

While in quarantine, Yulin spent time in an outdoor courtyard where he could soak in the sun or kick a soccer ball around. He said some people didn’t leave their rooms or engage at all with others.

Staff took his temperature with an infrared thermometer twice a day.

As he was leaving, Yulin remembered a small but significant act of kindness. It happened as one of the staff members dropped him off at the airport in San Diego.

“He gave me my luggage and he actually shook my hand. Which was amazing. Because we didn’t have any physical touch.”

He said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staff told people to keep a certain distance, among the precautions, though they made sure not to panic anyone. COVID-19 typically spreads through droplets from coughs or sneezes by an infected person who is symptomatic. CDC officials say some spread may be possible from a person who does not show signs of illness, but that is less common.

The nearly 400 people in Yulin’s quarantine group were cleared and given a letter which states, “The CDC has determined that you no longer pose a potential risk to public health at this time.”

A letter addresses to Yulin Yin.
A letter from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declares that Yulin Yin has completed his stay in quarantine and is not a public health risk.
Evan Frost | MPR News

More than 2,000 people have died in Hubei Province, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak.

His family in Hubei’s capital, Wuhan are healthy, though Yulin remains most concerned about his parents. He says people are being forced to stay indoors and forgo regular medical care.

Yulin said his sister and brother-in-law used to be able to run errands for her parents and bring them food and medicine. “They live pretty close to my parents, so they would go there every day.”

Now his family gets food delivered to the apartment complex where they live.

Later, as the Yins walked through the door of their home in north Minneapolis, the family’s 14-year-old beagle wagged his tail eagerly. Yulin set his bags down on the living room floor and took it all in.

A car arrives to a dark home in the evening.
Yulin Yin and his family arrive home in Minneapolis on Wednesday.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Besides spending time with his family, Yulin says he’s most looking forward to getting back to his old routine like doing dishes and shoveling the sidewalk.

“Just the regular, daily stuff. Because you don’t realize how precious those are until they are taken away from you.”