St. George man hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19 sent home with self-isolation order

Photo: Facebook

ST. GEORGE, Utah, March 6, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — Mark Jorgensen, the St. George man who tested positive for COVID-19 after traveling through Asia aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, has been released from the Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, where he had undergone observation for nearly a week.

Jorgenson is now under self-quarantine at a residence in St. George, where he’s being monitored by medical professionals from the Southwest Utah Public Health Department.

His wife, Jerri Jorgenson, is also home and taking part in the same self-quarantine. She, too, contracted the virus during the Diamond Princess cruise.

Official word of Jorgenson’s release came by way of a statement from Dr. David Blodgett, SWUPHD Health Officer and Director, although he did not identify Jorgenson by name. That news came from Jorgenson himself, in a video message posted to Facebook Friday morning.

Jorgenson revealed he had been released from IMC’s infectious disease unit Thursday and traveled directly to his St. George home.

He was joined in the video by his wife, with both of them donning face masks, as per doctor’s orders. Jorgenson also said they were told to stay at least six feet apart until they both tested negative for the disease.

Jorgenson was originally transferred to IMC from Travis Air Force Base outside Sacramento on Feb. 28th. There, he tested positive for the disease, although he had already spent days in isolation, along with his wife, in one of the cruise ship’s cabins.

Wife Jerri was actually diagnosed with the COVID-19 while the couple was still aboard the vessel. She was evacuated to a local hospital for treatment, while Mark, who was still considered virus-free, made the decision to fly back to the U.S. on a chartered military flight, and undergo a second 14 day quarantine. It was during that period he finally tested positive for the disease.

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Jorgenson was transferred to IMC at the request of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Todd Vento, associate medical director of Intermountain Healthcare tele-services, said the decision to accept Jorgensen as a patient was not taken lightly, and was simply the right the thing to do.

“He’s a Utah resident,” Vento said last Friday. “It helped him being with his family and closer to home after a long ordeal, and his wife still being in Japan. It was the right thing to welcome him here and show that we could provide the care for him.”

According to Blodgett, Jorgenson displayed no symptoms during his weeklong stay at IMC.

Still, “The individual is currently under a state-issued order to remain isolated from the community,” he said.

“The order will remain in place until the patient has had two consecutive negative tests for COVID-19. The Southwest Utah Public Health Department (SWUPHD) will be monitoring the patient until resolved.

“This patient does not pose a risk to the public, and we will continue to work closely with local, state, and federal public health partners to address any future COVID-19 cases in our community,” Blodgett said.

“While there are currently no laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in Utah right now, we do expect community spread at some point. We are ready and prepared for when that happens,” said Dr. Angela Dunn, state epidemiologist at the Utah Department of Health.

For updates and more information, visit coronavirus.utah.gov. Anyone who is worried about possible COVID-19 infection is asked to call the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707.

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