Humboldt native Dr. Will Baker stuck in Spain

Dr. Will Baker wearing a mask while stuck in Spain.

UPDATE March 26:

Will arrived in Denver today. As he is quarantined, he cannot go home (his wife and daughter are health professionals) or back to work.
So, thanks to Air bnb, they set him up in a short term rental they call his “Quarantine Condo.”
They stocked it with his favorite foods and fresh clothes. After he gets some sleep, he will go thru the
drive-thru coronavirus testing procedure.

Dr. Will Baker had landed in Chicago on Wednesday night, March 25.

With the help of the U.S. Embassy, Dr. Will Baker has made arrangements to fly out starting on Tuesday, March 24. and if all goes well, arriving in Denver Wednesday evening.

Humboldt native Dr. Will Baker is stuck in Spain.
Baker, a 1981 graduate of Humboldt High School, is a cardiologist in Denver.
He and his brother, Tom, arrived in Spain on March 6 for a self-guided tour of southern Spain. When he departed for Spain there were a few hundred cases of Coronavirus.
“I checked the CDC website and Spain was not one of the countries they recommended not traveling to otherwise we would not have gone,” Baker said.
But in a span of a few days the number of coronavirus cases in Spain jumped to 13,000.
“Things changed rapidly in Spain. When I met my brother in Madrid, there was a women’s march and it was wall-to-wall people. There was an event at the stadium with 60,000 people,” Baker said. “In the last three days of the trip each 24-hour period was different. The first day everything was pretty normal with people walking around. The next day places started to close and the next day the country was on lock down with all the bars and restaurants shut down.”
Baker was awoken in the night by his cell phone pinging continuously. Family and friends were letting him know travel was going to be shut off from Europe.
“Then what do you do. Do you try to get home earlier? The airlines were not making much effort. We figured we’d go on with our plans and come home on our original flight,” Baker said.
That was last Monday, March 16. Tom was able to board the flight and head back to Iowa and start a 14-day self-quarantine. Will had a fever and was not able to leave Spain.
Will had started to get the chills, had a fever of 102 and started to have some stomach issues as well. He called the U.S. Embassy in Madrid on Sunday and they said with a fever of 99.5 or above he wouldn’t be let on the plane.
Then he had to move. The first hotel in Jarez shut down. So he went to a different hotel in Jerez. With the understanding he would need a local doctor’s note in order to fly, he went to an urgent care downtown. There he was told to go to a hospital.
“I was in the triage area and fortunately one nurse spoke some English. They put me in an isolation room, but I had to wait 45 minutes while they cleaned the room. Then they did an x-ray. I waited two hours in the room and didn’t hear anything. So I thought they forgot about me. The two tests they did, my temperature and the x-ray came back normal. They didn’t do any other tests. The doctor was stressed. It was pretty clear they weren’t going to do the coronavirus test on me. They’re short of tests. They said 14 day quarantine,” Baker said. And once again the doctor would not write Will a letter.
Then he received notice the hotel in Jerez where he was staying was going to be closed. He located an Air bnb in Seville but that, too, could close soon.
“No hotels, no air bnb and no relatives here. I’d be on the street,” Baker said.
Baker said he’s been in contact with the U.S. Embassy and they’ve been very helpful. They told him the Spanish government might ease the restrictions on hotels and let them remain longer.
His Air bnb is a very nice apartment that overlooks a Cathedral. He’s able to do some work each day via email and his phone and work computer.
Experiencing it in Spain, Baker said there’s probably a lot more in the United States than is known. He said hand washing, not touching your face, using hand sanitizer, gloves and masks and practicing social isolation is a good idea.
“When we look at Iran and Italy where they had large gatherings, they had rapid expansion,” Baker said. “They went from 200 cases to 13,000 cases in Spain and that was totally underestimated.”
Baker’s wife is a nurse in Denver. They have two children. Will is the son of Pat Baker of Humboldt.

A message from Dr. William Baker, March 24.

Greetings from Spain. I am somewhat distressed to see that, in a subset of the press reports, there is resistance to the idea that the epidemic is real.
To be fair the debate is not whether the epidemic is real but rather how to respond. The economy is at risk to be sure. But we cannot “beat the virus” as if it were a ISIS opponent where willpower and military might are the determining forces.
Specifically, reckless early relaxation of public health measures is a dangerous fantasy that will ultimately cause more harm than good. The best way to get things going economically is to realize that public safety is intertwined with economic recovery. We could choose to live in a fantasy world where our (TV supported) desires support what is convenient for us.
That might work I guess.
But it’s more likely that intervention now in Iowa will be more important than in higher stressed places like New York City where the horse is already out of the barn.
Regards, Will Baker

Check back for updates and see more in the March 26 issue of the Humboldt Independent.

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