Man who contracted coronavirus on cruise ship transferred to Salt Lake City hospital

Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah. Undated photo. | Photo courtesy Intermountain Healthcare, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A St. George man who found out this week that he has been diagnosed with the COVID-19 coronavirus after a stay on a cruise ship is back in Utah after he was transferred Friday night to Intermountain Medical Center in the Salt Lake City area.

Mark Jorgensen confirmed the move with St. George News. Jorgensen and his wife are two of three Utah residents who tested positive for the virus after they were on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that has been quarantined in the port of Yokohama, Japan since Feb. 5.

“I’m in SLC now,” Jorgenson said Friday night.

Todd Vento, an infectious disease physician at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah, said at a news conference that the move was made at the request of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and does not reflect the condition of the patient. Jorgensen, while diagnosed with the virus, has not exhibited any of the symptoms like fever or respiratory distress. 

“It became clear that it was better for him to come back to Utah,” Vento said. “I would like to emphasize that he has not exhibited symptoms.”

Vento also emphasized that there is no danger posed to the general public. Jorgensen is being moved to an isolated unit designed to deal with patients with highly-contagious diseases.

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

Jerri Jorgenson has remained in a hospital in Yokohama since she tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus. Mark Jorgensen was transferred by U.S. officials from Japan to Travis Air Force Base on Feb. 17. He was diagnosed with the virus on Tuesday and has had stays in two Northern California hospitals before the move to Salt Lake City Friday night. 

The World Health Organization announced Friday that they have escalated their pandemic alert for COVID-19 from “High” to “Very High.”

Vento said Jorgensen will be in the medical center’s Emergency Preparedness Unit, which was specifically designed for treating those with highly infectious diseases. 

Vento also said they have reached out to Jorgensen’s physicians in St. George as Jorgensen previously underwent a kidney transplant. 

“It was the right thing to welcome him here and show him we could give him the best care,” Vento said. “This is an opportunity to demonstrate we have the capabilities.”

Ed. note: This report was revised to make earlier mention of Mark Jorgensen contracting the coronavirus on a cruise ship.

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

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