CORONAVIRUS

Utahns Quarantined On Cruise Ship Will Leave Japan On Emergency Flight

Feb 15, 2020, 8:55 PM | Updated: Jun 17, 2022, 12:03 am

SALT LAKE CITY – A Utah man and woman have made the difficult decision to return to the United States on an emergency flight, leaving their loved ones behind in a Japanese hospital to be treated for COVID-19.

Two Utah couples had been quarantined on a Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan for several days when Jerri Jorgensen and John Haering both spiked fevers and tested positive for COVID-19, formerly known as coronavirus.

They were taken to a hospital after being diagnosed with the virus. After the US government announced plans to send an airplane to get the remaining Americans on the ship, their spouses made the tough decision Saturday to return home.

In order to go through what Jerri Jorgensen is going through, it helps to have the kind of positive attitude she has.

“Cute jammies!” she said excitedly while looking into a mirror.

Jorgensen is one of hundreds of passengers on that Princess Cruise ship in Japan taken to a Japanese hospital after testing positive for the coronavirus.

“It is what it is,” she said during a video she posted to her Facebook page. “I do have the coronavirus, otherwise I wouldn’t be here.”

That means being quarantined for another 14 days as doctors run tests to see how she’s doing.

“It was a 4-hour ambulance ride to get here from the ship. They did blood work, took my temperature, did a chest x-ray and did a CAT scan,” said Jorgensen. “Can I just say the Japanese people are lovely? I mean, they’re just so sweet.”

While she’s staying upbeat, though, her husband, Mark, had to make one of the toughest decisions he’s ever had to make.

“I’m still on that shock phase,” he said during a video phone interview with KSL reporter Alex Cabrero form his cruise ship room. “Is this really happening? Is this really going on?”

Mark Jorgensen had to make the decision to take a flight back to the United States, knowing he was leaving his wife behind.

He also knew if he didn’t take the flight there was no answer as to when he might be able to return.

“What do I do? I mean, I don’t know. It was tough,” he said. “I do have the option to stay, but I probably couldn’t be with her anyway, and I’m going to get kicked off the ship in 5-6 days.”

The couple decided together the best thing would be to have him travel back to the U.S. while he can, and Jerri will follow when she can.

Those who take the flight back to either California or Texas will be quarantined on a military base for 14 days.

“I’ll be in the States. I’ll be quarantined. Quite honestly, I’m no further away from Jerri than I would be otherwise because I can still phone and Facetime with her, so that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going home tomorrow,” said Mark Jorgensen. “It’s kind of in our nature to just roll with things. Life just works easier that way,” he said.

That’s what Jerri is doing. She’s staying positive and looking at everything as an experience.

“They gave me this lovely box of chocolates,” she said in her Japanese hospital room. “I ate three of them.”

They hope they will be able one day to look back and laugh at this trip.

“Oh boy is this an adventure. I’m up for an adventure, but wow,” said Jerri Jorgensen.

Another Utah couple who was on the Diamond Princess is also making the same decision.

Melanie Hearing, from Tooele, is planning on taking the emergency rescue flight while her husband John stays behind in quarantine.

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Utahns Quarantined On Cruise Ship Will Leave Japan On Emergency Flight