How the COVID-19 pandemic is keeping one Utah family a world apart

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(Photo: Hoopes Family)

As health officials are asking families to stay together at home, one family in Utah wishes they could.

Tonya Hoopes of Midway is asking Utah’s congressional delegation for help getting emergency visas for her husband Mark and the couple’s sons, Stephano and Angelo, who are stranded in the boy’s home country of Tanzania.

“It’s another obstacle, but this obstacle is the one that has frightened me the most. They are 9,000 miles away — if one of them gets sick, there is nothing I can do,” Tonya Hoopes told 2News.

The Hoopes have been in the adoption process for five years and Mark Hoopes moved to Tanzania in an attempt to help secure the children visas to come to the U.S.

The State Department issued orders last months for American citizens to return to the United States immediately or make plans to stay abroad indefinitely. The Hoopes are hoping to get emergency help from the State Department.

“We’re in a different time right now, it’s critical that we get them on our soil so that if need be they can be taken care of,” Tonya Hoopes said.

Currently, Tanzanian officials report there are 22 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country.

“People live in very, very close quarters there, very small room, one room houses. My gut tells me there are a lot more deaths there than are being reported,” Hoopes said.