BELMONT, N.C. — An American student traveling up and down China made it out right before travel restrictions went into effect due to the coronavirus.
Dexter Lensing is now living in Belmont, and since he left China, the virus has spread exponentially, even by people who don’t have any symptoms.
“I definitely feel really blessed that I got out when I did," said Lensing.
Lensing said he returned to the United States on Feb. 2, arriving in Atlanta before coming to Belmont. On Feb. 6, the U.S. enacted travel restrictions.
According to Lensing, he was given a quick check when he entered the country in Atlanta but beyond that, he has been under no quarantine or monitoring. He had no symptoms and was just told to call the doctor if things changed.
Lensing said he believes that fear in China is spreading faster than the coronavirus.
“It’s just been a bit overblown," Lensing said.
Channel 9′s Ken Lemmon said he could see the hint of relief on Lensing’s face when the former soldier and student a Georgia State University explained that he unintentionally put himself at risk.
“The Lord was watching over me during that time," said Lensing.
Before the disease became public health enemy No. 1, Lensing spent time between classes traveling China from north to south twice.
He said he was with friends, traveling in and out of train stations coming within 500 miles of Wuhan, the place with the highest concentration of deaths from the coronavirus.
Days later, public health officials advised people not to do the things Lensing has been doing for a month.
Lensing said people in the city decided to stay home and 80 percent of shops shut down. He said Starbucks even restricted some customers.
“They won’t let you in without first checking your temperature," said Lensing.
The day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared a public health emergency, Lensing got a call from the director of his studies program.
“He basically told me, ‘Let’s get you out of the country as soon as possible,’" said Lensing.
He said he has been symptom-free since returning to the U.S.
As for the national spread of the coronavirus, the U.S. now has 15 confirmed cases. There are now at least 470 confirmed cases in more than 25 countries. In China, the number of confirmed cases has surged to just under 60,000.
The CDC said it offered to help nearly six weeks ago in China but, after hundreds of deaths, that offer still has not been accepted.
To help speed up the testing process, the CDC shipped out some of the test kits to labs across the United States, but quality control tests found they aren’t all working properly.
According to officials, some tests are producing inconclusive results. The CDC said it’s working to remake parts of the kits.
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