At last, the Frasures were home.
Kent and Rebecca Frasure arrived in Oregon on March 10 after spending nearly two months in Asia, during which she spent a month being quarantined in a Tokyo hospital for having COVID-19 while her Pocatello-raised husband waited from another location in Japan until she was cleared of the virus.
But what awaited them in America was what they wanted to say goodbye to. The United States was at more than a thousand confirmed coronavirus cases when they got back.
“On the cruise ship, it just seemed like a very temporary thing. It was going to blow over really quickly. But now we know it’s not,” said Kent, a 1995 Highland High School graduate and Idaho State University alumnus who lived in Pocatello for 20 years. “It’s more difficult to not get anxious about what’s going on.”
Rebecca spent nearly a month in isolation before returning home to be forced into a similar mode of living in the U.S.
“It definitely messes with your mind and your emotions. I never expected to be in this position at this point,” said Rebecca, a Washington state native. “Being away from everybody is very difficult. When I got back home, we figured at that point life would be able to get back to normal.”
The couple, who reside in Forest Grove, Oregon, and have been married for 11 years, planned an Asian vacation trip from Jan. 19 to Feb. 14. Then Rebecca became one of the first 61 people to test positive for COVID-19 on the Diamond Princess cruise ship and was at the hospital from Feb. 7 to March 4.
Rebecca, 35, said she experienced no more than a slight cough and light fever, but was part of the at-risk group as she has multiple sclerosis that she takes medication for.
During her hospital stay, Kent was not allowed to be with her. Now a familiar image in the United States, the 42-year-old husband saw her through her second-floor hospital room window in Tokyo near the end of her stay.
About two weeks after she was admitted, Kent finally left the cruise ship on Feb. 23 and stayed at a hotel paid for by the cruise liner. But he was at a hospital from Feb. 29 to March 3 because he had a fever, though he never tested positive for COVID-19.
Kent could have went back to the United States in mid-February on a flight organized by the U.S. State Department, but chose to stay in Japan with Rebecca who was not allowed on because of her COVID-19 diagnosis.
“He’s just that kind of person. He wouldn’t leave me alone in a foreign country to fend for myself,” Rebecca said. “He definitely could’ve come back home and did his 14 days (of isolation) and been done and I would’ve come home when I came home. But that’s not how we roll.”
Nearly a month after they were supposed to arrive home, they finally arrived home in March.
They are both back to work, happy to sleep in their own bed and be with their cats. Kent, who broke his leg in November, started physical therapy for his injury two weeks ago after originally being scheduled for that in mid-February.
The couple have to watch a replay of what they experienced, but on a significantly larger scale. There were more than 380,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. and Oregon had around 1,100 as of Tuesday.
The uptick in cases reminds Kent of the “demoralizing” effect of regularly hearing the number of people with COVID-19 being announced on the cruise ship.
“What we went through on the cruise ship was almost a microcosm of what’s going on now to everyone else,” Kent said. “It’s just a really surreal experience to go through it.”
Kent wishes he could go to the movie theater, but is instead doing other activities, such as keeping an updated spreadsheet of confirmed coronavirus cases per state and attempting to model it out.
“Everybody is going to start knowing people who this has really effected if they don’t already,” said Kent, the son of former Idaho lawmaker Evan Frasure. “And that’s where it becomes more scary for people. It’s not just looking at a number on the TV screen.”
Kent advised Americans to be patient; Rebecca echoed his sentiment.
“We just have to be patient and hunker down and muddle through while this is all happening in order to keep it from getting worse,” Rebecca said. ”It’s really, really, really hard and I am fully aware of that, but it could be so much worse if we don’t just listen and stay home.”