SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Department of Health announced Friday that Mark Jorgensen was released from the hospital — even though he still tests positive for the novel coronavirus or COVID-19.
For the first time in at least a month, Mark and his wife Jerri are home again — even if they have to be six feet apart.
“We just kind of said hi and waved from a distance wearing masks,” Mark said in a Facebook video. “We just wanted to hug each other so bad.”
Jerri tested positive and showed symptoms for COVID-19 while the couple was on the Diamond Princess Cruise in Japan.
Mark tested negative at the time, but was sent to California where he was quarantined.
Then testing positive, but showing no symptoms, Mark was transferred to Utah.
Dr. Angela Dunn, a State Epidemiologist with the Utah Department of Health, said the moment Mark was on Utah soil, health professionals were there in protective gear to help him.
“Everyone that approached him was wearing appropriate personal protective care that prevents them from being exposed to the disease,” said Dr. Dunn.
After a week, still testing positive and showing no signs of symptoms, doctors decided Mark could go home.
“He’s been isolated for a month or longer,” said Dr. Dunn. “That takes a toll on you mentally, so it’s good that he can go home to his family.”
His departure has also freed up hospital resources for those who actually need them for the flu or other illnesses — not COVID-19.
“Our ICU beds are full to capacity because it’s respiratory virus season and everyone is really vulnerable,” said Dr. Dunn. “We need those beds to get the care they need.”
Mark said he’s under court ordered quarantine, but he’s grateful to be reunited with his sweetheart.
Doctors are waiting for three of his tests results to come back.
Mark said they do a throat and nose swab — both tests have to come back negative more than 24 hours apart.
“I’m not a danger to the community and Jerri’s not a threat to the community either,” he said.