A Dallas, Texas man who has lived under quarantine in Wuhan, China, for the past three months has some advice on how to stay sane.
“Try your best to eat well,” Warren Lee said. “Learn to make real meals instead of just instant stuff. Video call your friends and family regularly and remember that by staying inside and not being a part of the problem means directly saving lives.”
Lee, 29, arrived on Jan. 20 to visit his girlfriend and celebrate the Chinese New Year just as the number of coronavirus cases there began to explode.
“People just need to keep their senses about them,” Lee said.
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Wuhan, a city of 19 million, is where the pandemic started.
Lee, who works with startups in the esports business, planned on staying in China for two weeks, but got caught in the quarantine and still can’t leave. He changed his Twitter name to "Warren in Wuhan."
He has been staying in his girlfriend’s 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom apartment, unable to leave except to occasionally stock up on groceries. Customers wait at the front door of grocery stores and employees deliver food to them there, he said.
Lee said he passes the time by watching movies, playing video games and following the latest coronavirus news. He spoke to NBC DFW via Twitter.
“Doom Eternal (the video game) came out,” he said. “That’s been fantastic.”
He said food has been in good supply, but there wasn’t much of a variety until recently.
“It’s not just bare essentials anymore,” he said. “I can get like fried chicken and pastries now.”
While China has gone a few days with no new cases of the virus, Lee said Wuhan is still under lockdown.
“Pretty far from normal still,” he said Saturday. “No one can go out of the complexes yet.”
A few days after Lee arrived in China, he recorded a video and posted it on YouTube.
Back then, the world had barely heard of the coronavirus.
“The city is in quarantine because of, what is it, coronavirus?” he said. “I don’t think that’s an apt description because they say the common cold is also like the coronavirus. So yeah, it’s a bad label.”
“It’s not the apocalypse as much as people have been saying,” he said in the Jan. 26 video, which he called Wuhan Quarantine Day 4. “Things are pretty chill here.”
But things quickly got worse. A lot worse.
More than 2,000 in Wuhan died from coronavirus. Nearly 50,000 were infected.
And the virus started to spread around the world.
Lee’s warnings on Twitter grew more dire as time passed, people started to die and the restrictions grew.
He also wrote about his experience being quarantined with his girlfriend week after week.
On Monday, his message to Americans was direct.
“In the next two weeks the number of cases will skyrocket,” he wrote. “The hospitals will be packed. People who need care for non-virus issues won’t be able to get it. There needs to be a safety net set now.”
Lee, who grew up in the Mid-Cities and graduated from Trinity High School, said he had no idea when he could come home to Dallas.
“Need to come back as soon as I can because I don’t feel comfortable leaving my mother to go through this alone,” he said.
His mother lives in Tarrant County and is well, he said.
Lee said he also misses tacos and can’t wait until things around the world get back to normal.
If Wuhan is any guide, and assuming the virus doesn't surge there again, the United States can expect about three months before the outbreak comes to an end.
And for those Americans who said they were caught off guard by the virus, Lee said he did his best to warn people.
“I’ve been screaming from the top of my internet mountain since January about this,” he said. “If no one was listening, then that’s their own fault.”