Central Illinoisan shares coronavirus experience from China

Local News

CISCO, Ill. (WCIA) — A Central Illinoisan living abroad has gotten an up-close view of what the coronavirus can do.

The number of cases continues to grow in the U.S., including more deaths. Josh Winters is an English teacher who lives in the country where the outbreak started. He is in Shenzhen, China, about 700 miles from the COVID-19 epicenter in Wuhan. But he’s originally from Monticello.

“That first two weeks, from [January] 24 on to about the middle of February, everything was at a standstill,” says Winters. “You could hear a pin drop outside in a city of 15 million people. There was no one.”

Winters graduated from Monticello High School in 1997 and lived in Cisco more recently. For the past three years, he has been in China with his wife and son. He recently posted on Facebook asking for questions on his experience living in the country where the virus originated.

“It’s real easy to panic,” says Winters. “I think answering people’s questions, and just talking to people about it from my perspective can be comforting. At least I hope.”

Winters has been out of his job since schools closed in January. He says his time has mostly been spent caring for his two-year old son. Having experienced what a lot of Americans are going through already, he says the solution is getting through it together.

“Be thoughtful and compassionate and, more than anything, patient with your fellow human beings,” says Winters. “I think that would be my advice to anyone who is just overwhelmed with this.”

Winters says he heard schools may be back in session there within the next few weeks. Which means he could go back to his job very soon.

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