Mrs. Hopland may be cleared today to fly home

John Thompson • Feb 29, 2020 at 3:20 AM

ELIZABETHTON — “I feel like a 100-pound weight has been lifted off my back,”  Dr. Arnold Hopland said.

The physician from Elizabethton was referring to the prospect of his wife, Jeanie, being able to finally leave Japan and return to the couple’s home in the United States after weeks of being quarantined after testing positive for coronavirus.

Hopland has felt frustration that he could not help his wife during her stay in a Tokyo hospital. He was also quarantined, first in the couple’s cabin on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, then in a dormitory of the National Tax College near Tokyo.

While Arnold Hopland will remain quarantined until March 7 at the earliest, his wife appears to have some clear passage ahead after testing negative for the coronavirus on two consecutive swabs. Arnold Hopland has never had a positive reading, but remains in quarantine because he could have come in contact with people who had the disease.

With the two negative readings, Hopland said the next step is for the American embassy in Tokyo to to remove Jeanie Hopland from the restricted flying list. Speaking at 10 a.m on Saturday Tokyo time, Hopland said the name removal should be accomplished that day. 

Once Jeanie Hopland’s name is off the restricted list, the next step is to book a commercial flight to the United States. If all goes well, she should be home soon.

With the worry he has had for his wife now dissipating, Hopland is now even more vocal on the the nation’s response to a viral epidemic. He said he is preparing to speak before a Congressional committee on the matter that has not yet been arranged.

He also has plans to bring the message to the Royal Society of Medicine, where he has been extended a formal invitation.

Hopland said he has not been able to identify much of the Japanese food he has been served in his dormitory room, which is alright for him, since he is cutting back after the elaborate meals he and his wife enjoyed on the Diamond Princess. He said he has enjoyed the miso soup.

But he may make the unfamiliar fare into a feast if he gets the good news from his wife that she is free to travel.