UPDATE 6 p.m. Friday, March 20, 2020: Meghan Gianni-Bradford and some others got on a military flight from Honduras to South Carolina.
They landed in South Carolina at 4 a.m. Friday morning and will drive back to Hampton Roads Friday during the day.
PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — In the past seven days, Meghan Gianni-Bradford’s downward emotional spiral has gone from fun, to frustration, to fear.
“We are currently trapped in Honduras,” said Gianni-Bradford.
She arrived in Honduras for a tournament with her USA women’s tackle football team last Wednesday — before coronavirus rapidly changed the way of life.
Now, they can’t get back to the United States, and they can’t get more food or medicine.
The team’s first indication of trouble was the cancellation of Sunday’s championship game — which was disappointing. Then, Honduras closed stores and shut down all travel in and out.
That part was devastating.
The team’s Clarion hotel in Tegucigalpa has restaurants but they have now closed. Some people brought snacks, Oreos and Cheez-Its. The hotel still had some food as of Wednesday afternoon but it’s quickly running out.
“I do not believe that we’re gonna make it to Monday with food. I think we’re going to have to start really rationing our food. This is a serious situation. This is not just the grocery stores are closing to restock — the grocery stores are just closed.”
Gianni-Bradford says the group of 39 players, nine coaches, two staffers, and seven family members also has people with medical needs including heart conditions and diabetes, and they can’t replenish their medications.
She says she’s made numerous calls to government and embassy officials with no success.
10 On Your Side reached out to the State Department on her behalf, and a spokeswoman offered nothing concrete other than this statement:
“The Department of State has no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas. We are aware the governments of several countries have announced suspension of air travel. We are considering all options to assist U.S. citizens in these countries. We are continuously assessing travel conditions in all areas affected by COVID-19, and will continue to update our travel advisories and safety information for U.S. travelers as situations evolve.”
“The United States government needs to step up and help us get out,” Gianni-Bradford said. “We don’t care where on American soil we land and what happens after that. We just want to be on American soil.”
Gianni-Bradford works at Newport News Shipbuilding. 10 On Your Side contacted Huntington Ingalls to see if somehow the company can intervene on behalf of her group, as well as the office of Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). She is one of three Virginians in the group.
A spokeswoman for Sen. Kaine sent 10 On You Side this statement Wednesday night:
“We are deeply concerned about the health and safety of the USA women’s tackle football team and the many other Americans stranded abroad as a result of coronavirus-related travel bans. Senator Kaine just sent a letter urging Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to immediately step up efforts to assist Americans who are stuck in coronavirus-affected nations. We’ll continue to follow this issue closely and press for action to help Americans stranded abroad.”
“We need to get out. We want to be able to get home. We want to be able to see our families,” Gianni-Bradford said.
“We understand that it’s bad in the United States, but can you imagine being stuck so far away from home, and you’ve no idea when you’re gonna see American soil or your family again? That’s a very frightening thing.”
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