YINCHUAN, Ningxia — Three weeks is an awfully long time to be stuck in your apartment, and one Colorado man has been trying to make the best of it while documenting one of the biggest news stories in the world.
Alexi Grojean has been living in China for about a year. During his time there, he’s traveled and worked at an English training center, but for the past three weeks, he’s been spending most of his time in his apartment in self-quarantine while the country copes with an outbreak of the coronavirus.
As of this writing, more than 70,500 people in China have been diagnosed with the disease, which has symptoms ranging from a runny nose to pneumonia. Nearly 1,800 people have died.
Grojean lives in a different province than Hubei, which is the epicenter of the outbreak. He’s about 900 miles from Wuhan. Nevertheless, he and most of the city of Yinchuan, have been largely trapped inside while Chinese officials attempt to curb the spread of the virus.
Grojean has been documenting his experience on Instagram, showing everything from empty streets in his city of 2 million people to the painstaking process involved with going to the grocery store.
“Probably the one thing that’s really freaked me out, after about two weeks, 16 days, you start to talk to yourself about the weirdest thing ever,” Grojean said of his isolation in one video.
In his most recent Instagram story, Grojean posted video of people in Hazmat suits walking around outside his apartment.
“I’ve never seen these guys before, but they’re all done up,” he said.
In one Instagram story, he discussed his fears of running out of coffee. He's also talked about passing the time with books, TV shows, learning the ukulele and graphic design jobs.
In nearly every video, he's wearing a Carhartt hat and some piece of Colorado sports gear (Grojean has gone to ask for a sponsorship from the popular workwear company in some of his videos).
One thing Grojean has emphasized is the fact he doesn't think the virus is as bad as it's being portrayed to be. He said he hasn't seen people dropping dead in the streets, and his province has only a few dozen cases of the coronavirus, rather than thousands.
Nevertheless, it's something he and his community are taking seriously. Grojean has shared videos of crews spraying down his apartment complex with chlorine.
He's also posted numerous photos of the empty streets of his city.
They all have the same caption: empty Yinchuan.
He said grocery shopping involved getting his temperature taken both entering the mall where the store is, and then once again at the entrance.
Grojean has also shared photos of police blocking his apartment complex, and taking the temperature of every person in their cars on a busy street.
Despite this experience, Grojean has said he wants to stay in China, even though he could likely return home.
He said he's committed to continuing working there until August.
You can follow his quarantine and photography on his Instagram.
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