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‘At this stage, that’s an emotional toll,’ New Yorker visiting Wisconsin faces quarantine to go home

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SUN PRAIRIE (WKOW) -- A new restriction for people traveling from Wisconsin to three East Coast states is just one more unknown for a New York actor who will be heading home soon.

Ryan McDowell, who's originally from Wisconsin, has been spending part of the pandemic with his family in Sun Prairie.

"Just trying to come to Wisconsin and make the most of having the time with the family," he said.

McDowell, who works on stage, in a gym and as a caterer is trying to figure out his future, while all three of his jobs in New York are on hold.

He spent a month with his family early in the pandemic and returned again this month for another visit.

"It definitely felt like the world was closing in around you, you're much more aware and a little bit more paranoid of everything, especially coming from New York, which was horrendous; being out there at the beginning of all this and seeing things just shut down abruptly and seeing the numbers skyrocketing," he said.

But now, as McDowell prepares to return home to what was once the epicenter of the pandemic, he faces two weeks of quarantine because of COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin.

"It's odd to feel like New York is the safer place to be at this point."

The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut added Wisconsin to the list of restricted travel on Tuesday.

In New York, where officials have started to get a handle on the virus after a devastating few months, travelers from 22 states will have to fill out forms and do a mandatory two-week quarantine, or face a $2,000 fine.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said it's just one more reason to follow guidelines recommended by health officials.

"I just think that we should use this as a motivator to continue to do the best we can and actually increase our ability and participation in having masks and keeping socially distant, staying home as often as possible," he said at a news conference Tuesday.

The governor doesn't anticipate any similar restrictions here in Wisconsin, because it would be too difficult to monitor road travel.

Despite the order, McDowell says he will have to go back to New York soon. His apartment lease is up at the end of August, so he has to sort out his living arrangements and continue looking for a job.

He'll get tested for COVID-19 and cope with the stress of quarantine.

"If you're stuck in New York quarantining for two weeks, or the four or five months that we have been, you're stuck in like a box," he said. "At this stage, that's an emotional toll more so than really anything else."

He's hoping he'll be leaving a state that will take what he's seen in New York seriously.

"We can't let ourselves get so complacent with this, that once it hits, it hits us harder than any other state," McDowell told 27 News. "We're all in this together. We don't want to go back into another shutdown. We want to get the businesses going and the best way to do that is just work together to prevent it and get through it."

Dane County Regional Airport in Madison has direct flights to New York and New Jersey. Three airlines fly to either La Guardia or Newark.

The airport released the following statement Tuesday, after the restrictions were announced:

We continue to advise passengers to follow CDC guidelines, including checking the local and state restriction of your destination to comply with any requirements put in place.

Jennifer Kliese

Weekend Anchor and Reporter, 27 News

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