The coronavirus outbreak has caused some countries to completely close their borders, trapping American tourists abroad in places like Honduras, Peru, and Morocco.
These trapped Americans have been speaking to news outlets, saying the US government has done little to help them get home.
An anonymous State Department official told Bloomberg on Tuesday that US citizens should not expect help getting them home, like the help given earlier to Americans in Wuhan.
Possibly thousands of American tourists have been stranded abroad thanks to coronavirus travel restrictions, and an anonymous State Department official says they shouldn't expect the US government's help getting them home.
As the world tries to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, a few countries have closed their borders entirely.
That has left "perhaps thousands" of Americans, according to NBC News estimates, trapped abroad in locked-down countries, which include Honduras, Peru, and Morocco.
—Mohamed Ali (@moe_ali_taha) March 18, 2020
On Tuesday, a State Department official, speaking anonymously, told Bloomberg that these citizens shouldn't expect the government's help getting them home. This appears to be a reversal from the aid the department offered Americans abroad early in the outbreak, when the government chartered flights out of Wuhan, China.
CNN spoke to several Americans trapped in Peru, where the president instituted a 15-day border closure on Sunday. All said they had reached out to the State Department, but received "minimal to no response."
Jesse Curry, who is staying with family in Peru, said he tried and failed to book a flight as soon as he heard the news Monday morning. Since then, he's had a tough time getting in contact with the State Department.
—M Bene (@MariaBene6) March 18, 2020
"I received one response to a tweet; otherwise it's been email auto replies and forever-ringing phones," he said. "Even the emergency number just rang and rang."
On Monday, the US Embassy in Peru said that "American citizens who have not been able to reschedule their flights out of Peru should arrange lodging for the duration of the quarantine period."
Some of the trapped Americans in Peru have joined a WhatsApp group where they are keeping each other updated.
Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP
"Currently, we are emailing and calling our states' politicians, and spreading the word through social media in hopes of gathering attention," Daniel Voznyarskiy, a Washington resident stuck in Peru, told CNN.
"Our biggest worry is that these next 15 days won't end there, and that there may be an extension, noting the country's inability to handle such cases," Voznyarskiy added.
NBC News spoke to Americans experiencing a similar situation in Morocco.
Phil and Jerri McMannis from Boston, Massachusetts, told NBC News they have been trying to get home from Morocco since Friday, when an impending border closure was announced. Though the border closure did not go in to effect until Sunday, the couple struggled to get a flight.
—Cari Dawson Bartley (@CariWho) March 17, 2020
"The local people are offering to help and are talking to us, but our own government has said nothing," McMannis told NBC News, adding that he had reached out to the US Embassy and his senators.
Mary Marland of Colorado flew to Morocco on Friday for a wedding as the announcement was being made. She and her family tried to rebook to leave Sunday, but ran into the same problems as the McMannises.
"Information is unreliable. Every cancellation happened without a rebooking option, and I've spent hours on the phone will the airlines," Marland said.
Now she's worried about begin stuck at their Tangiers hotel longterm, where breakfast for the family costs $90.
"I am terrified of the idea that this is going to go on beyond this week," she said.
—Linda Scruggs, BSN, RN (@UnboxedMom) March 16, 2020
When NBC News reached out to the State Department for comment on these cases on Tuesday, a spokesperson said that while the US government had evacuated hundreds of citizens in the last few weeks, "such flights do not reflect our standard practice and should not be relied upon as an option for US citizens abroad who may be impacted by the ongoing spread of COVID-19."
However, after making that statement the US Embassy in Morocco confirmed that they were arranging 300 flights out of Agadir and Marrakesh to London in the following days.
When reached for comment on Wednesday, a State Department spokesperson said that they had "no higher priority than the safety and security of US citizens overseas."
"We are aware the governments of several countries have announced suspension of air travel. We are considering all options to assist U.S. citizens in these countries," the spokesperson wrote.
"We are continuously assessing travel conditions in all areas affected by COVID-19, and will continue to update our travel advisories and safety information for U.S. travelers as situations evolve."
They offered the following advice to the American citizens in the impacted countries:
Monitor the relevant embassy website for information
Enroll at STEP.state.gov to receive updates
Follow the advice of the CDC and local health authorities
Check with your airlines for updates
Monitor the State Department COVID-19 website
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