What was intended to be the vacation of a lifetime has left a Vincentian woman stranded in Miami and her family in Hawaii unsure of how she would be able to meet her expenses.
Alvina King, 59, was unable to board her flight from Miami to St. Vincent on Saturday because of new COVID-19 protocols announced by Kingstown one week earlier — after her flight had been booked.
Now, her family has turned to GoFundMe, a crowd funding website, to try to raise US$800 to pay for her accommodation and meals in Miami until she can get a flight home, or to fly her back to New York, where she can stay with relatives.
The woman’s son, Carlton King contacted iWitness News on Sunday, saying:
“My mother got stuck in Miami and couldn’t return home after taking the COVID-19 test 4 days before her trip and didn’t get the results yet. I feel so sorry for her and the other 100 plus citizens trying desperately to get home to their families.”
King was unable to board her flight because the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has announced that passengers would not be allowed entry into the country if they do not have a negative COVID-19 test.
With this new stipulation, American Airlines, which flies between Miami and St. Vincent every Saturday, is denying boarding to passengers who do not have a negative COVID-19 result.
Previously, up to July 18, persons arriving in SVG from the United States could take a COVID-19 test up to three days prior to arrival in SVG and not undergo any quarantine on arrival in SVG, if also tested negative upon arrival in the country.
If they were negative, they would be released from quarantine.
However, SVG recorded nine COVID-19 cases linked to the American Airlines flight on July 11, which brought 155 passengers to the country.
The flight the following week recorded an additional four cases.
These cases, along with some others unrelated to the AA flights, saw SVG recording more COVID-19 cases in two weeks that it had done in four months, with the total now at 52.
The development resulted in health officials stipulating five days mandatory quarantine for all arriving passengers, at the person’s expense, at a government-approved hotel for all arriving passengers, regardless of the result of a PCR test for COVID-19.
And this is having a direct impact on King, as it has had left a hole in the pockets of many of the persons who were able to board the flight home on Saturday, as they had not planned for the additional expense.
King’s daughter-in-law, in the GoFundMe, said that she has been in the United States since February on her first international trip.
“She has never been on a plane ride longer than an hour. And at 59 years old, she decided to make that trip from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines all the way to Hawaii so that she can spend time with her 3-year-old granddaughter, and son,” Jocelyn Lorenzo said in the post.
She said that what was planned as a fun-filled event full of “amazing outdoor memories became a stay-at-home trip full of worries and paranoia.
“During her entire stay, we did our best to make sure we did not spread the disease and did our best to make sure that none of us contracted the disease. We did not join any gatherings and only left the house when absolutely necessary because she was afraid that because she doesn’t have insurance, getting sick would leave us with a hefty medical bill.”
Lorenzo said that her family was finally able to get King a flight home to SVG this month but noted the last minute protocol that SVG put in place.
Lorenzo further wrote:
“All of these new restrictions were placed a couple days after we made the flight reservations. We arranged her COVID test appointment to be done on the 21st (4 days before arrival) when she landed in New York.
“She stayed in New York at some relatives and then flew down to Miami on the 24th for an overnight layover. We booked her a hotel room for Miami, and booked her mandatory 5-night hotel stay in St Vincent.
“The next morning, she tried to get on her flight but was denied because she along with about 100 other passengers did not get their COVID test results yet. Now she is stuck in Florida where it was just reported that there are 12,199 new cases. She has no relatives to stay with and the flights to get back to her home country only happen once every Saturday. We are scared and doing everything we can do get her back home or somewhere safe as quickly as possible,” Lorenzo said in the campaign that was created on Saturday.
She said that the situation has put “an incredible strain” on her family’s income as although her husband, King’s son, is an essential worker, and has been able to work during the pandemic, she (Lorenzo) is not “and all of these unexpected expenses has really put a toll on us”.
She said she decided to create the GoFundMe account “to ask for any assistance no matter how small to help lighten the load on us and be able to put mommy in a hotel room in Miami or fly her back to New York to stay with relatives for the week (whichever is cheaper) and for the cost of meals.
“Any extra money over the goal will be used to help pay for her hotel stay in St Vincent,” she said.