Mayor Ferrell’s return from sister cities trip delayed by COVID-19

Ferrell said he is feeling much better and planned to fly home May 4, local time.

An ill-timed bout of COVID-19 kept Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell in Hachinohe, Japan, for an extra week after the recent sister cities trip, but Ferrell said he is feeling better and plans to be back home in Federal Way by the time this article is published in print May 5.

Ferrell joined several city council members, executive staff and other community leaders in visiting Federal Way’s sister cities in Donghae, South Korea, and Hachinohe, Japan, from April 21-29. It was a chance to transmit business and cultural connections between the three communities.

Unfortunately, something less desirable was also transmitted: On the morning of the last scheduled day of the trip, Ferrell developed a flu symptom and tested positive for COVID-19, according to a message he wrote to Council President Linda Kochmar, who read it aloud during the May 2 council meeting.

Ferrell consulted local health officials and ultimately spent five days and nights at a quarantine hotel to get well again. He described his symptoms as akin to a mild flu. Ferrell was the only person in the Federal Way delegation to get sick with COVID-19.

“I am feeling much better now,” Ferrell said in an email May 3; it was actually May 4 for him, due to the time zone difference. “I spent five days and nights in a quarantine hotel sponsored by the local city government of Hachinohe. I left Hachinohe yesterday (Wednesday here) and I took the bullet train to Tokyo. I spent last night in Tokyo and will fly home today (Thursday). Due to the time difference, I will arrive in SeaTac on Thursday morning. I am truly grateful for the care and assistance that our friends in Hachinohe extended to me and I look forward to being home soon.”