East Texas woman endures harrowing time in China, met with fear and suspicion back home

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East Texas (KETK) – NET Health is currently monitoring East Texans who recently traveled to countries with coronavirus cases.

Ashley Jenkins is one of those people given orders to “self-monitor” her symptoms since returning to East Texas on February 23.

She’s the Mabank woman who was stuck in China without a passport after hers was stolen. Jenkins often travels to other countries to teach children but her most recent trip to China turned traumatic.

“It was like a horror movie in the sense that everything was shut down, people were wearing masks, basically all the food was gone.”

Ashley Jenkins, East Texan back from China

There was a health crisis happening overseas and she was stuck in the midst of madness. She quarantined herself for weeks in her China apartment.

“I don’t even know how I kept my sanity,” Jenkins said.

Things took a dark turn when she became the victim of an aggravated robbery.

“I had a huge black eye,” Jenkins described her injuries. “I still have scars on my back. He threw me against the wall three times. He knocked me out.”

While she was knocked out, her attackers scoured the apartment, taking everything with value by the time she woke.

“I had to get myself up and go find him, and he was already gone.”

Her only option was to plead for help.

“I would’ve been homeless with no passport and no phone, I don’t know what I would’ve done. It was really really scary for me.”

Finding a way to skype, she received funds from people across the world through a GoFundMe. She says it saved her life.

“If I didn’t have help from random strangers, translators, then I would still be there.”

When she made it back, she went through testing at multiple airports and, with no symptoms, was sent home. She is currently being monitored by local health officials.

“We’re the boots on the ground for them,” Russell Hopkins, NET Health director of public health emergency preparedness, said.

After being back in East Texas for just three days, Jenkins was seen in public. A photo of her and a friend at a bar went viral, scaring residents seeing her around the community after just being in China.

“I think it should be mandatory that they are quarantined if they go to China or other countries like that,” a local said, expressing concern.

“She’s been out and about and I don’t think that’s right, I think when she got back she should’ve been taken straight to the hospital,” another concerned resident said.

While many opinions agree the protocol in place seems unstable, it’s still the system being used.

“Locally we have people low to medium risk that are self-monitoring.”

This means they are free to do as they wish. They only record their temperature and any symptoms to a local health official daily. If they were to experience symptoms related to the coronavirus, that is when they would be quarantined.

We have officials discussing action plans at the local, state, and national level because any misinformation concerning the virus can be dangerous.

“I just wish that people would inform themselves and maybe not jump to conclusions,” Jenkins says, replying to her criticism.

Officials say educating ourselves on the virus is our best weapon against it for now.

NET Health says the people who are being monitored are being asked to “limit social activity.”

Hopkins says it’s not a requirement but a “suggested guideline.”

NET Health monitors each person returning from countries where the coronavirus is active. He says the cases continue to increase daily across our 35 counties.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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