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13 Alabamians quarantined in Palestinian hotel after Coronavirus outbreak

Updated: Mar. 6, 2020 at 10:21 PM CST
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BETHLEHEM (WSFA) - What began as an exciting mission trip to the holy city of Bethlehem, Palestine, quickly became a nightmare for 13 members of 3Circle Church in Mobile. Seven staff members at their hotel, the Angel Hotel, have tested positive for the coronavirus.

In fear they might have been exposed, the group is being quarantined in that same hotel. According to the Jerusalem Post, these are the first known cases of the coronavirus in Palestine. At least 40 people are being quarantined, and 14 of them are Americans.

Angel and Jourdain Thrash are 2 of the 13 Alabamian church members being kept in their hotel room amid fears of exposure to the coronavirus. The couple are both staff members of the church.

Angel and Jourdain Thrash wearing face masks to protect from the virus.
Angel and Jourdain Thrash wearing face masks to protect from the virus.(Source: Angel Thrash)

Angel's parents say they fear for what comes next.

“The fear is because it’s so new, and they are stuck thousands of miles away.. what happens,” said Guy Sanders, Amber’s dad.

The church’s Executive Pastor Blake Stanley says they are being told to stay in their hotel rooms for 14 days until their test results have been confirmed. Only then they hope to cross the border back into Israel and fly home.

“So, they finally got us tested today and we should hear back from our results tomorrow,” said Stanley.

So far no one in the group is showing symptoms.

Stanley says they were leaving the hotel the morning they found out they were in danger of exposure to the virus, but then were shortly sent back to be quarantined.

“When they called us back they originally told us there was only one person that had the coronavirus at that point that had tested positive that was on the hotel staff," said Stanley. "When we got back to the hotel we found out there were four, and that all four of those individuals work on the kitchen staff.”

Stanley says despite the unfortunate circumstance, the hotel staff and local authorities have done a great job making sure they are comfortable.

“The hotel staff has been awesome. They have fed us well, they have tended to all of our needs,” said Stanley. “The mayor where we are at has been so good to be the help outside while the hotel staff on the inside has been working really hard on the inside to make sure our needs are taken care of.”

Angel’s mom says with so many unknows, all they can do from a distance is pray.

“I just want them to be home, and I want to ask people to please pray for them, and their speedy recovery and their entire church staff,” said Angel’s mom Gina Sanders.

Angel’s family has contacted Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby in Washington, making him aware of the situation, but they say so far they have not gotten any answers on what will come next for their family members.

Friday marks the second day the church group has been quarantined. They were originally scheduled to be home on the 12th of March.

Copyright 2020 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.