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State’s First COVID-19 Patient Looking Back One Year After Hospitalization


Salt Lake City — Sunday a year ago, Utah accepted the first patient with COVID-19.

Mark Jorgensen and his wife were infected with the virus along with dozens of others while on a cruise ship in Asia — before the now prevalent disease spread to the state.

“I didn’t expect to do this a year later,” Jorgensen said on Sunday, initially saying that the new SARS-CoV-2 strain would act “like another swine flu or bird flu.” He added that he was expecting it.

“I’m very surprised that it lasted so long,” he said.

Jorgensen, who had never experienced any symptoms, was admitted to a special high-level isolation unit at the Intermountain Medical Center on February 28, 2020, after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requested transfer from a California hospital. He was already quarantined while waiting for shipment from Japan to the United States and in California.

After spending a few days in a Murray mountain facility, he was still asymptomatic and was taken to his home in St. George by ambulance and police escorts for another few weeks of quarantine.

“We certainly didn’t mean to make him a guinea pig … but we had to learn,” said Dr. Todd Went, an infectious disease doctor at Intermountain, who helped treat Jorgensen. Said. He said it has changed a lot since a year ago.

Doctors who were preparing and planning for COVID-19 to arrive in Utah said it was “surprising” to receive a call that a positive patient was in progress.

“It was then that it became a reality,” Vent said. Even 40 days after the positive test, Jorgensen’s test showed that he was infected with COVID-19, but at that point all signs were that it was finally safe for him to leave the house. I showed that there is.

Mark Jorgensen takes a selfie in an ambulance. He was infected with COVID-19 during a cruise in Japan with his wife Jeri in early 2020. Mark Jorgensen was returned to the United States directly at an air force base in California before being transferred to the Intermountain Medical Center in Murray in February. , 28, 2020.
Mark Jorgensen

Intermountain’s biocontainment unit is just one of the few units in the United States that exists when it is necessary to isolate it from a particular illness. Since then, doctors have found that it was not sufficient for all patients treated with COVID-19.

At that time, quarantine was the only known way to stop the spread of the disease.

“This is a terrible thing that happened,” Vent said, adding that COVID-19, although less invasive, will continue to be a problem for the next few years.

“We can’t be satisfied,” he said. “We knew it was a marathon. The marathon is 26 miles and we are somewhere in the middle of our teens or twenties … we have to keep running Don’t think about the finish line. We have to keep up the good fight. “

Utah numbers are well off peak

The number of daily cases in Utah was initially low at tens, and then peaked at over 5,000. The 7-day average for new cases on Sunday was 647, compared to 1,425 on February 1. Vento said the virus appears to be leveling off in Utah and throughout the state, with the emergence of mutant strains, keeping the disease highly toxic. ..

On Sunday, the Utah Department of Health reported cases of 465 new illnesses identified by the test. In Utah, the total number of people infected with COVID-19 is 371,235.

In addition, six more deaths were reported in Utah on Sunday. Among them were four men and two women, of whom a man in Summit County between the ages of 45 and 64 was not hospitalized at the time of his death. A man in Salt Lake County between the ages of 45 and 64 who was hospitalized. A man in Tooele County between the ages of 45 and 64 who is not hospitalized. A man in Utah County over the age of 85 who was a resident of a long-term care facility. A woman from Weber County between the ages of 65 and 84 who was a resident of a long-term care facility. He was a woman in Salt Lake County between the ages of 65 and 84 and a resident of a long-term care facility.

COVID-19 has killed 1,935 Utah residents since the outbreak of the pandemic.

According to the CDC report, there are more than 28.6 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 512,000 deaths nationwide. Recently, as Vent said, about 70,000 new cases were resolved per day in the United States.

Vent said he thought COVID-19 wouldn’t be a problem after last summer … “But the virus really shows us that it makes a timeline and we adjust There must be.”

Due to Utah’s population and demographics, Vent knew that the state would not experience the levels of illness felt in New York and Washington, where long-term care facilities were hit hard.

He said hospitals in Utah never met crisis standards.

Since Jorgensen arrived at a Utah hospital to receive treatment for COVID-19, 14,695 people have been hospitalized for the virus in hospitals throughout the state. On Sunday, the State Department of Health reported that 203 people are currently hospitalized for the disease. 20 less than reported on Saturday, 38 less a week ago.

The number of cases is still declining, and hospitalizations are following the same trend in Utah. Health officials say deaths will respond accordingly, but they are a late indicator of illness.

Utah has tested 2.2 million COVID-19s using a total of 3.8 million tests since March last year.

A mask wearing the best way to maximize the vaccine and contain the disease

The state has given 254,569 people two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. But overall, the state administered 715,536 doses, including 14,243 more than reported on Saturday. At least 820,940 doses of Moderna and / or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been delivered to Utah. The state is still vaccinated on a weekly basis, so the vaccination schedule will soon be met.

Officials said the third available vaccine produced by Johnson and Johnson was approved for widespread distribution on Saturday and will soon arrive in Utah.

Vent said vaccines need to be “maximized” as a weapon to contain the disease.

“We need to keep doing what we know,” he said, saying that wearing masks, increasing social distance, restricting meetings, etc. shut down new virus strains and prevent infection. I added that it would be useful.

Dr. Todd Vento and Dr. Angela Dunn talk about coronavirus patients being treated at the Intermountain Medical Center in Murray on February 28, 2020.  A year later, on Sunday, Vento talked about the state's first treatment of COVID-19 patients. Pandemic.

Dr. Todd Vento and Dr. Angela Dunn talk about coronavirus patients being treated at the Intermountain Medical Center in Murray on February 28, 2020. A year later, on Sunday, Vento talked about the state’s first treatment of COVID-19 patients. Pandemic.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Dr. Todd Vento and Dr. Angela Dunn talk about coronavirus patients being treated at the Intermountain Medical Center in Murray on February 28, 2020.  A year later, on Sunday, Vento talked about the state's first treatment of COVID-19 patients. Pandemic.

Dr. Todd Vento and Dr. Angela Dunn talk about coronavirus patients being treated at the Intermountain Medical Center in Murray on February 28, 2020. A year later, on Sunday, Vento talked about the state’s first treatment of COVID-19 patients. Pandemic.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

COVID-19, Vent said, “Probably stay here.”

But that shouldn’t stimulate fear, he said.

Jorgensen, who is eligible for vaccination because of his age and transplant, said he had not been vaccinated yet and was wary, but would act according to his doctor’s advice. And although he was not symptomatological, he has since developed medical problems such as mental fog and pressure on the nerves of the eyes, which may be the result of a COVID-19 infection earlier last year. ..

“Maybe I’ve never skated as ineffective as I expected,” he said. “But we both believe we were lucky to get off as easily as we did.”

He and his wife lived a normal life, and he spoke to the media via Zoom from his accommodation in Costa Rica on Sunday. He didn’t regret traveling to Japan and said, “Something will happen.”

“After that, I had a great time with a little side adventure,” Jorgensen said. “But we will definitely cruise again. We are afraid of this and will not stop us.”

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