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A U.S. women’s tackle football team was airlifted out of Honduras on Friday by the U.S. military after being stuck in the Central American country for nearly a week when it closed its borders Sunday amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The team members, who were in the country for a tournament, said they were safe, had contacted the U.S. Embassy for assistance and were practicing social distancing at their hotel.
“All of our airlines do not have planes that 'sleep' here at the airport so we had no way of scrambling to get out since we had no way to get out,” the team wrote in a Facebook post after the border closure.
The team said they struggled to come up with funds to pay their hotel and food bills until the border reopened.
“At this moment we are all working on gaining support from our families and friends to be able to pay the bill for the next 7 days at which time we hope they open the border back up,” the post said.
“Traveling here wasn’t a concern to us because there was only one confirmed case before we got here, so we were weren’t concerned about coming here and at that time the United States wasn’t on lockdown yet,” Stephanie Balochko, the team’s coach, told "Outnumbered Overtime" host Harris Faulkner via FaceTime earlier in the week.
By Friday, the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Transportation Command and SOUTHCOM, which oversees military activities in Latin America, had airlifted the 55-member team to Charleston, S.C., according to Jonathan Rath Hoffman, assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs.
“The @usairforce @US_TRANSCOM and @SOUTHCOM conducted an air mission earlier today taking a group of U.S. women's football players from Honduras to Charleston,” Hoffman tweeted.
"We continue to assist @StateDept in repatriating US citizens,” he added.
The State Department has advised Americans to not leave the country during the outbreak crisis.