Machias couple in Italy gets home just ahead of COVID-19

A couple in Machias spent two weeks in self-quarantine after returning home from overseas.

They are now looking back on and learning from their brush with coronavirus.

Newlyweds Ben and Allison Edwards own a hemp farm in Machias, and make CBD products. They source a lot of their equipment from Italy, and were there in late January on a sort of a working honeymoon.

“The coronavirus was already in the news," Ben said. "It was not a big deal, but people were talking about it. “

They didn’t stay in Italy very long. They took a night train to France before heading back to Maine. By the time they got off the train in France the next morning, the number of cases in Italy had gone from a few to hundreds.

Ben said, “We spent some time looking for masks, just because we thought it would be prudent. You couldn’t purchase them anywhere. It was anxious, certainly. We just wanted to get back to Maine.”

Before returning to Machias, they spoke with their doctors about having been in Italy and decided to self-quarantine.

“Allison’s mom and dad were gracious enough to bring groceries. They would drop them off once a week, and they’d bring them up and put them on the doorstep. We’d go out with our masks and gloves and pick them up, but yeah- that was it.

No contact with family, friends, or the nearly two dozen employees that work on the farm, and kept it going while the Edwards were overseas.

“Actually being home, that wasn’t the difficult part.," Allison said. "You felt bad asking so many people to kind of step in, and continue to help us for another two weeks after we had been gone for so long."

The Edwards tested negative for COVID-19 when they finished quarantine, but like most small businesses in Maine, getting back to work is a challenge.

“By the time we were out of quarantine, the state had stepped in and closed different businesses, and we closed the farm shortly thereafter, so we never got back to our regular schedule," Allison added.

What started as a working honeymoon ended up a first-hand account of the spreading of a global pandemic.

“When we came home from France, it was completely different here," Ben said. "No one was talking about it. This is why, when our doctor recommended that we go under quarantine and it made sense to us when we told everybody else, it made no sense to anyone. And just in that small gap of time, the two weeks we were in quarantine, that was enough time for the entire United States to shut down. It was amazing how quickly things have changed."