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Thousands Of U.S. Citizens Ride Out Pandemic In Foreign Countries

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

As the pandemic spread, thousands of American citizens who were abroad came home - not everyone, though. For some Americans, staying put made more sense.

ERIN MCMILLAN GUSTAFSON: With early lockdown measures, it just felt a little bit more sane and safe, to be honest, to be here.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Erin McMillan Gustafson (ph) has lived with her husband and three sons in Copenhagen for the past five years.

MCMILLAN GUSTAFSON: There's a lot of trust in the government here and a lot of trust between citizens in Scandinavia, especially in Denmark.

MARTIN: Ai Twong (ph) considered going home. In the end, he decided to ride things out in Tokyo.

AI TWONG: I have to go back to the U.S., where I don't have state-sponsored health insurance, where I don't have work to get me health insurance. Like, it doesn't seem like it would be any better to go home.

GREENE: As the United States nears 100,000 deaths from COVID-19, many expats are worried about their loved ones back home.

LEE MIDDLETON: Yeah, I'm worried about my parents, and I want to see them. But at the same time, you know, you don't want to endanger them further.

MARTIN: Lee Middleton is a journalist based in Cape Town, South Africa. The city has been ravaged by the virus.

MIDDLETON: You can't go anywhere, basically. It's like house arrest, essentially. I mean, I say that supporting the government's choice to do so. But yeah, that's where we are.

MARTIN: But Ai Twong is staying optimistic.

MIDDLETON: We'll get through this. Everything is going to be OK. It won't be the same, but we'll be OK.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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