St. George Man Who Tested Positive For Coronavirus Returns Home
Mar 6, 2020, 7:19 PM | Updated: 7:25 pm
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A St. George man who tested positive for COVID-19 was allowed to return to his southern Utah home but will remain in isolation until he receives consecutive negative tests for the virus.
It had been more than a month since Mark Jorgensen has been able to sit inside his St. George home. But now that he is home, he’s not allowed to leave.
“I am confined by court order to stay in my house,” Jorgensen said.
That’s because Jorgensen was still testing positive for the novel coronavirus.
Posted by Mark Jorgensen on Friday, March 6, 2020
Even though he feels fine, he said it’s best to be safe.
“I hope people can rest assured that I’m not a danger to the community,” he said.
That’s exactly what Utah Department of Health officials said, too.
During a press conference on Friday, Utah state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said Jorgensen was allowed to leave Intermountain Medical Center in Murray based on the Centers For Disease Control’s recommendation since he didn’t require any medical attention.
He had been there for a week.
“There is no risk to the public for this gentleman going home,” Dunn said. “He has been asymptomatic, meaning he hasn’t shown any symptoms from the time he even tested positive.”
Jorgensen will be monitored by Southwest Utah Public Health Department officials until he tests negative.
It takes two consecutive negative tests in a 24-hour period to be considered cleared, based on CDC guidelines.
“Healthcare workers will come to his home and they appropriate personal protection equipment that will prevent them from getting the disease,” Dunn said.
Allowing patients to self-isolate in other virus cases is common, such as those who test positive with influenza.
“If a patient has no symptoms or has no medical needs, instead of taking up a hospital bed, it’s a perfectly safe measure for them to isolate at home until they are cleared,” said David Heaton with the Southwest Utah Public Health Group. “Home isolation, in quarantine, will probably be the new norm for any other positive cases we might see in the future in our community.”
Even still, the Jorgensen family has received some threats for even being back in St. George.
Jorgensen’s wife, Jeri Jorgensen, is home in St. George.
She tested positive for coronavirus while the couple was on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined in Japan last month.
Jeri Jorgensen was taken to a Japanese hospital, where she later tested negative and was allowed to return home.
“The threats that were out there were never direct,” Mark Jorgensen said. “They were always second and thirdhand. The security at the hospital told me about them and my doctor told me about them, and I got very nervous.”
Jeri Jorgensen isn’t at risk to get the virus again since she already had it.
Even though she’s not under an isolation order, she too will stay home until her husband tests negative, just to be safe for the public and to ease any concerns.
“I know there still might be some people who are a little uptight with me being here but rest assured, I am confined. I’m not going anywhere,” Mark Jorgensen said. “All is well and we are mindful of everyone’s concerns and we’re laying low to relieve those concerns.”
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The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:
- Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
- Avoid touching your face
- Stay home when you are sick
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
The CDC does not recommend wearing a facemask respirator to protect yourself from coronavirus unless a healthcare professional recommends it.