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A year later, Utah’s first COVID-19 patient recalls a “surreal” experience


Mark Jorgensen says the disease may have long-term consequences, but he doesn’t regret going on a cruise that is likely to have caught the coronavirus.

(Photo courtesy of Mark Jorgensen) Mark Jorgensen, the first Utah to be treated for COVID-19, rides an ambulance. On Sunday, he talked about his experience with the coronavirus, which marked the first anniversary of his arrival at the Intermountain Medical Center.

Mark and Jeri Jorgensen were a happy couple on a cruise ship that visited all over Japan a year ago. But when they later tested positive for a mysterious disease called COVID-19, they became doctors’ guinea pigs competing for what the new coronavirus is and how to treat it.

Mark Jorgensen First Utah treated with COVID-19 February 28, 2020, exactly one year ago. He was sent to the Inter-Mountain Medical Center in Murray after a positive test at an air force base in California, where only one of the three Utains had the coronavirus. His wife was previously positive and had been quarantined in Japan.

At that time, he felt “completely normal” and had no symptoms despite the diagnosis.

“I was confused as to why this turmoil happened,” said the 56-year-old, 56, looking back on his thoughts a year ago at a Zoom press conference on Sunday.

Since the diagnosis of Jorgensen, COVID-19 has been rampant all over the world. Nearly 2,000 people have died in UtahAnd more than 500,000 people have died in the United States alone. Sports have been closed for several months around the world..Preventive health measures such as Mask wearing was politicized..
But lately, coronavirus infections, hospitalizations and deaths have been predominant. Downtrend.. People are vaccinated. The scientific community and the general public know more about COVID-19 than they did a year ago.

Jorgensen said the situation “became a reality” for him when his test returned positive after he was initially negative. He believes he caught the virus on his way back from Asia to the United States on a freighter. He said positive symptomatic patients were separated from other passengers by curtains alone.

“I’m sure a lot of communication was happening,” Jorgensen said.

When the plane landed, Jorgensen was inspected and diagnosed. From there, he was taken to a hospital in Fairfield, California, where there was no containment area for coronavirus patients. He remembers a lab technician rushing out of the room after the blood was drawn.

And moving Jorgensen was like a spy movie.

“It felt very surreal — the whole experience,” Jorgensen said. “It was just police escorts, precautions, ambulances and the kind of stealth method they took me to the hospital.”

According to Jorgensen, there was talk of a transfer to Auckland, but he suggested that he might be able to go somewhere in his hometown. That’s where the Intermountain Healthcare facility comes in.

“I was excited because it was like a step closer to home,” said Jorgensen from St. George.

After staying in the Intermountain quarantine unit for about seven days, Jorgensen returned to his home in St. George in a police-escorted ambulance and quarantined for another three weeks. He is sleeping in the basement and his wife is upstairs.

Dr. Todd Vento, an infectious disease expert at Intermountain, recalled how quickly things changed in the early stages of Jorgensen’s treatment. He continued to test positive for the virus, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Vent that Jorgensen was no longer infectious, meaning that it could remain quarantined, demonstrating a change in thinking at the national level. I will.

“The lesson there is that we have to learn, change, and adjust things,” Vent said. “People said they wouldn’t use masks. That probably pushed us back a lot. Now we know that the data is great for masks. We need to use masks and accept it. is needed.”

Jorgensen said it was “safe” for him last year. However, he feels some protracted effects that may be due to COVID-19. He said he was experiencing a “fog of memory” as well as eye conditions that his ophthalmologist believed was associated with the coronavirus.Jorgensen was asymptomatic when infected with COVID-19, but the number of “long-distance carriers” who experienced long-term symptoms after being considered “recovered” Continue to grow..

Jorgensen said he hadn’t received the coronavirus vaccine yet and didn’t know when he would. He described himself as “like to see how it works” with respect to the vaccine, but imagine he would follow the advice of his doctor who advised him to receive it. There is.

Although Jorgensen and his wife were probably infected with COVID-19 on their 2020 cruise, he says he doesn’t regret continuing it. In fact, he is currently on vacation in Costa Rica with her at the couple’s first international venture since the pandemic arrived in Utah.

“Obviously, we’re afraid of it and won’t stop us,” Jorgensen said. “It’s a kind of our outlook on life.”

In Vent’s opinion, COVID-19 will never go away. Although numbers are declining in Utah, there are plateaus throughout the county, and Vent said it could be due to “sustainable transmission of new strains.” But that doesn’t mean there’s no good side.

“That’s why reality probably stays here,” Vent said. “But since we have a vaccine, it shouldn’t be a fear-inducing statement, and we already have a vaccine. It’s been modified to address new variants.”

Using the marathon analogy, Vent explained that people should not be satisfied with the overall reduction in cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

“The marathon is 26 miles,” Vento said. “We’re probably somewhere in our teens or twenties, who knows? The important thing is not to stop the marathon at that point. You can’t say” this is the end of the race. ” You have to keep running. “


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