This story has been updated to include a response from Sen. Dan Sullivan’s office.
At least 19 Alaskans are stuck in Peru, which has closed its borders amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. One of them is a Juneau girl.
City and Borough of Juneau Assembly member Wade Bryson’s daughter, 15-year-old MaryEllen, has been in Ica, Peru for roughly eight months as part of Rotary International’s student exchange program.
Bryson told the Empire his daughter had been scheduled to come home in June, but he and his wife decided to bring her home as soon as possible.
Currently, Bryson’s daughter has a ticket home for April 4, but the Peruvian government is only releasing 500 Americans per day, Bryson said, and he wasn’t sure when his daughter would be allowed to leave.
Bryson said he was confident the issue would be resolved shortly and his daughter would be home soon. He added his daughter was just one of many family members that were abroad that needed help as well.
“I know there are lots of kids that are not Juneau, getting those kids home to their families is just as important,” Bryson said.
Alaska’s congressional delegation is working with the U.S. State Department who have been in contact with Peru’s government.
Ica is about a four-hour drive from the nation’s capital, Lima, which is where the nearest international flights depart.
Getting his daughter to the airport presents an additional challenge, Bryson said.
Despite the stress of being stuck in a foreign nation, Bryson said his daughter was in good spirits. Either Bryson or his wife speak to their daughter daily, he said.
Bryson said he had been in contact with Sen. Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young, both Republicans, who are aware of the situation.
Sullivan spokesperson Mike Anderson said in an email they could not comment on specific cases, but the senator was aware of the situation.
“Sen. Sullivan and his team have been tirelessly engaged in identifying and communicating with Alaskans abroad and with personnel at the State Department,” Anderson said.
The State Department is currently negotiating with the Peruvian government to bring Americans home as soon as possible, Anderson said.
Officials expect there will be upcoming commercial flights out of Peru and flights chartered by the State Department, the Associated Press reported.
Travelers should register with the state department’s Smart Travelers Enrollment Program, which allows federal officials to contact and provide transportation for people trying to get home, Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski told the AP.
Family members or Murkowski’s office can help register travelers in the program, she said.
Americans who may be stranded in a foreign country should contact the U.S. Embassy in the country they are located, Anderson said.
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information on the coronavirus is available from websites for the City and Borough of Juneau, the State of Alaska at coronavirus.alaska.gov and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People with flu-like symptoms are encouraged to contact their health care provider.