Family evacuated from China contracts COVID-19 in Shelby County


MILLINGTON, Tenn. — A Mid-South family left China to avoid contracting the coronavirus, only to contract the virus in Shelby County.

Infected with the coronavirus, James Dickey and his 8-year-old daughter Hermione are quarantined at their Millington home.

“It’s supremely ironic,” Dickey said.

The 43-year-old father thought he and his family escaped the virus when they made it out of China six months ago.

“Without a doubt, it was a panic situation,” Dickey said.

Dickey and his wife Priscilla are separated. They were living in different parts of China when the outbreak forced much of the country to shut down in January. It happened while Hermione was visiting her mom in Wuhan.

“They were like okay, no one is getting out of Wuhan. Wait, what?” Priscilla Barrett said.

More than 100 miles from each other, James and Priscilla spent weeks trying to get out. They were terrified their daughter would get sick.

“We talked to every possible media outlet, anybody who would listen to us,” Dickey said.

Priscilla and Hermione were finally evacuated by the U.S. Government in early February and James booked a flight home weeks later. Priscilla went to Ohio while James and Hermione went to live with his family in Shelby County.

“I thought I was coming back to safety and it turns out we were actually exposing ourselves more,” Dickey said.

His father tested positive last week, followed by James and Hermione days later. Thankfully, the 8-year-old is in high spirits.

“I’m feeling okay. I’m not that sick,” Hermione said.

All the same, her parents want Mid-South residents to take the virus more seriously.

“The atmosphere in China when I left was one of great concern and fear,” Dickey said, “Here it seems like people say well, you can’t tell me what to do. You can’t tell me I have to wear a mask, and people’s children and grandparents get sick because people don’t take care.”

Priscilla does not have the virus. Hermione splits time between both parents, but she tested positive right before she was supposed to go back to see her mom.

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