St. George woman aboard cruise ship tests positive for Coronavirus; Americans being evacuated

Stock image used for illustrative purposes only | Photo by Pik Repo, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A St. George woman aboard a quarantined cruise ship docked at Yokohama, Japan, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to her husband.

Updated Feb 16 at 9 a.m.: Mark Jorgenson and Karey Maniscalco, St. George residents who were aboard the Diamond Princess, have reported on their Facebook pages that U.S. officials have transported them off the ship, sending video from aboard a tarp-lined bus. Jerri Jorgenson, having to stay behind in a Japanese hospital infected with the novel coronavirus, also sent a video message on Facebook.

Mark Jorgensen posted a video to Facebook Friday night stating his wife, Jerri Jorgensen, had tested positive for the virus responsible for quarantining the Diamond Princess cruise ship at Yokohama since Feb. 5.

“The news I have to report today is that Jerri has been tested positive for coronavirus and been has taken off the ship and taken to a hospital,” Mark said in the Facebook video he posted Saturday afternoon in Japan, which was Friday night in Utah.

Jerri would be the first resident of Southern Utah to come down with the new virus from China that has infected more than 67,000 and claimed more than 1,520 lives worldwide since the outbreak began two months ago, according to the World Health Organization.

An image of the coronavirus shows the distinctive shape that gives the virus its name. “Corona” comes from the Latin word for “crown” or “halo.” | Photo courtesy the Centers for Disease Control, St. George News

The couple had been taking their temperatures and checking for possible fevers constantly as that is a sign of the illness. Jerri Jorgensen has been doing fine until the night before, Mark said. She began to run a fever, yet decided to sleep on it to see if it went away. If the fever was still present, the couple would contact authorities in the morning.


Mark said his wife didn’t sleep well, although her temperature had gone down some. They were debating whether or not to contact authorities, and when they finally decided to make the call, they were called first.

“We finally just decided to call them and see what was going on and we were about to do that, and all of a sudden the phone rang and they were calling us,” he said.

The couple were told officials were coming to their cabin and soon after, they appeared at the door. As they didn’t speak much English, they showed the Jorgensens a note. It instructed them to gather some essential items because, based on the results of a test done a few days prior, Jerri Jorgensen was believed to have tested positive for coronavirus.

“It’s not necessarily coronavirus, but it’s more than likely that’s what it is,” Mark Jorgensen said.

Mark Jorgensen said he and his wife have been making the best of their time on the ship and that it had even been fun, “but then this fear hit about 8 o’clock last night and just played out like it did.”

He said his wife’s being diagnosed with the illness is “ironic” given she’s “the healthiest one” out of the two.

In a follow-up video, Mark said doctors confirmed his wife had the coronavirus.

The latest news is Jerri definitely does have the coronavirus, she’s been diagnosed and she will be kept there for 14 days.” he said.

While his wife will stay in Japan, Jorgensen said it appears he’ll be flown back to the United States with other Americans stuck on the cruise ship. However, once they arrive at a military base in California, they will be placed under another 14-day quarantine.

St. George resident Karey Maniscalco, who is also aboard the Diamond Princess, has expressed frustrations with being under quarantine on the ship, and even further stress over the additional 14 days by the United States government following an announced evacuation of American citizens stuck on the cruise ship.

I was so tempted to start screaming all my tension away on the balcony moments ago. I am screaming inside,” Maniscalco said in a Facebook post Friday.

Passengers had originally been told there wouldn’t be any additional quarantine efforts, both Maniscalco and Mark Jorgensen said.

“They’ve been telling us all week there’d be no additional quarantine and I was all excited about that, and that’s turned out not to be true,” he said in the video.

According to a letter from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo sent to American passengers and crew on the Diamond Princess, an aircraft has been chartered to bring them home and should arrive on Sunday in Japan. They will be taken to the Travis Air Force Base in California, with some additional runs to bases in New York and Texas

Travelers returning to the United States from high-risk areas are required to undergo quarantine. Accordingly, you will need to undergo further quarantine of 14 days when you arrive in the United States. We understand this is frustrating and an adjustment, but these measures are consistent with the careful policies we have instituted to limit the potential spread of the disease. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation and will provide all the assistance we can to support the quarantine process.

The letter further states the federal government is working with partners in Japan to make sure that Americans who cannot board the plane due to their testing positive for coronavirus will “receive the required care.”

Jerri Jorgensen is the second Utahn to have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to Fox 13 News. John Haering of Tooele developed a fever that lasted two days and was taken to the hospital after the fever broke. He tested positive for the virus Friday morning.

According to a report from NPR, there are nearly 400 Americans aboard the Diamond Princess. Multiple news outlets are also reporting that nearly 300 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed among the ship’s more than 3,700 passengers and crew.

As of Saturday, 15 people across the United States have tested positive for the virus, while globally over 50,500 cases have been reported, according to the World Health Organization.

Health officials have also taken to calling the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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