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.
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.
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.
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 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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