Fairfield native recounts sleeping outside Shanghai hospital amid strict COVID lockdown

Josh Vaughn documents COVID in Shanghai
Posted at 7:21 PM, Apr 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-07 19:21:52-04

SHANGHAI — As the United States eases its COVID-19 restrictions, China is doubling down on efforts to contain the virus.

That includes in Shanghai, where officials extended a strict lockdown earlier this week. The ‘zero tolerance' policy has 26 million people confined to their homes.

“Everyone is on lockdown, so everyone is stuck at home,” said Josh Vaughn, a Fairfield native who is now living in Shanghai. "No one is allowed to leave, they’re trying to rotate when people are getting groceries."

Vaughn is particularly affected by the latest lockdown. After finding out he was in close contact with someone who had COVID, authorities told him to pack up. He was picked up about a half-hour later and taken to a hotel to quarantine.

“They took me to a hotel, actually a little van picked us up. There were five people in the van,” Vaughn said. "I got in, it took us to a hotel and we got all sprayed down. Making sure we were clean, spraying our luggage."

The group got settled in but was later moved to a second hotel. That’s where a few days later Vaughn began to develop a migraine. He was sent to a hospital to be tested for COVID, where he had to wait outside in a hazmat suit for his results.

“After six to seven hours of me just waiting for the test results, they came back and said it’s abnormal. I’m like, ‘What does that mean? ... Do I have COVID?’ They’re like, 'It’s abnormal,’” Vaughn said. “At this point, it was late, dark out, they were saying I can’t go in the hospital, I can’t leave. There’s nowhere they could send me because everywhere was full. So they gave me this little blue mat and this blanket and they were like, 'You can sleep outside.'”

Vaughn was later moved inside to a hospital room, where he is currently staying. He’ll have to stay there for 14 days. If he tests negative at the end of the 14 days, he’ll be required to spend an additional seven days quarantined in a hotel room.

“The government, they’re trying to do everything they can to make sure people are safe,” he said.

Meanwhile, outside the hospital, residents are struggling with food shortages. According to a report by ABC News, “People in China's business capital complain online grocers often are sold out. Some received government food packages of meat and vegetables for a few days. But with no word on when they will be allowed out, anxiety is rising.”

Vaughn has a different concern.

“It’s like a month I can’t do any sunglasses sales,” he said.

Last year, Vaughn launched his company Black Shades, an eco-friendly sunglasses company that uses recycled plastic and sustainable materials in the product. He often sets up shop at markets in Asia, which he can’t do while quarantined or during lockdown. Production and sales also occur in Cincinnati. Receiving samples to review and approve in Shanghai has been an issue.

“It’s stressful for my business and that’s something that I don’t think a lot of people understand. We’re coming up to our busiest time of the year,” Vaughn said. “Right now, I have five new frames coming out and 75 new colors. And now they’re ready for me to review the samples and all the factories that we work with, they can’t send them to me because Shanghai is shut down. So this brings up issues for my supply chain.”

It's unclear when officials in Shanghai will lift the lockdown.

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