Henrico teacher held in Honduras amid pandemic recalls ordeal traveling back to US

Coronavirus

HENRICO COUNTY Va. (WRIC) — A Henrico woman is back home after being held in Honduras amid fears of the coronavirus.

Jessi Renehan, who teaches English in Honduras, made it back to the states Monday but told 8News the ordeal was one of the toughest she has had to endure.

“Still a little tired,” Renehan told 8News. “Definitely still a little emotionally all over the place.”

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to worsen globally, and travel restrictions in place, the Henrico native found herself at the mercy of the Honduras government.

Henrico native Jessi Renehan, made it back to the states Monday.

“The Honduran government closed all their borders within 12 hours,” Renehan recalled. “There was a woman football team, like a football tackle team in Honduras at the same time randomly, and they got evacuated by the military.”

Canceled were commercial flights and pleas from Renehan’s family to U.S. officials for her return to the states were unfulfilled. Then, after almost a week of lockdown, Renehan received a glimmer of hope.

“She called us on Saturday [March] the 21st and she said ‘I’ve got a plane you guys gotta get packed up,'” Renehan said.

A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement plane would be the 24-year-old’s way back into the states. Honduran deportees were dropped off, thus putting an end to what Renehan described as an exhausting journey. Fears of the coronavirus lingered, however.

“In the middle of a pandemic, the US is sending people back to a country that’s on lockdown,” she said.

While Renehan felt fine, she still didn’t know if she had contracted the virus.

“When we arrived in Louisiana, when we arrived at the airport, we were not screened in any way shape or form,” Renehan said. “There was no temperature check.”

An alarming admission by Renehan, she told 8News she’ll self-isolate at home. In the meantime, she and other teachers in her organization who traveled to Honduras and returned alongside with her will keep teaching kids remotely.

When it is deemed safe, Renehan adds that she would love to return to Honduras. But most importantly, she says she’s thankful for the support from others that helped bring her back safely.

“People were working to get us home,” she says, “and that was absolutely incredible.”

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