2nd Utahn aboard cruise ship confirmed to have coronavirus

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SALT LAKE CITY — A second Utahn quarantined on a cruise ship docked in Yokohama, Japan, has tested positive for coronavirus, according to her husband.

“The news I have to report today is that Jerri has been tested positive for coronavirus and has been taken off the ship to a hospital,” said Mark Jorgensen in a Facebook Live video Friday night in Utah, which is Saturday afternoon in Japan. “A lot of wild emotions going on right now, as you can imagine. This has kind of been fun. We’ve laughed with you all, kind of made the best of it, enjoyed our time with each other. ... This really came out of the blue. We went up on deck last night; everyone felt good. Then fever hit about 8 o’clock last night.”

Jerri Jorgensen took a swab test with her husband, who was tested because he’s considered medically vulnerable as he’s had two kidney transplants, the most recent in 2015. While the St. George couple worried that the fever and aches Jerri was feeling on Friday night in Japan was the beginning of coronavirus, they didn’t get confirmation until they received a visit from medical personnel the following afternoon.

They’d been reluctant to call medical personnel about her fever because even if it wasn’t the virus, they knew she would be taken off the ship and they didn’t want to be separated.

“Finally, decided to call and see what was going on, were about to do that, and the phone rang,” Mark Jorgensen said in the video. “They said ‘We’ll be to your room in just a minute.’”

Two men who spoke almost no English handed him a paper saying one of them had tested positive for the virus.

“So I said, I need to be ready, and they said, ‘No, not you. Her.”

Jerri Jorgensen was allowed a backpack with only essentials, including a change of clothes, her phone and her passport.

“They (came) and whisked her away,” he said. “I don’t know what I do now. I all of the sudden think I’m getting hot. ... We didn’t think we had any infection. We thought we were fine.”

We didn’t think we had any infection. We thought we were fine.

–Mark Jorgensen

The quarantine for the ship is scheduled to end on Feb. 19, according to the Princess Cruise website. Jorgensen said he wanted to tell their eight children and other family members before it hit the news, so they spent the time they had packing and talking with family members on video calls.

“I did not test positive from this last test,” he said, pausing. “It’s so ironic. She’s the healthiest one. Of all of us ... Jerri, geez, she’s the one who is doing great all the time.”

In an earlier Facebook Live video, Jerri Jorgensen said she’d been getting up at 1:30 a.m. to participate in her pilates class.

The first Utahn to be diagnosed with coronavirus is John Haering, who was taken off the ship about 24 hours before Jorgensen. Both couples are aboard the Diamond Princess.

His wife, Melanie Haering, posted a video saying she feels guilty being on the ship in a comfortable bed with three generous meals a day, while he is in a hospital, alone, with extremely limited food options and being forced to purchase water.

“He is only given tea,” Melanie Haering shared in a text with KSL. “He did get six bottles (of water) that he personally purchased. ... He gets a bowl of rice, kimchi and miso soup.”

John Haering happened to have yen in his pocket when he arrived at the hospital, and a nurse took his money to the gift shop to buy him water. His son was trying to arrange a delivery of supplies from a mission president from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints serving in the area, but so far that hasn’t materialized so the family is trying to send him supplies through Amazon Japan.


“I think honestly the ship was a better place for him,” she said in the text. “He’s not on any medication, just isolation.”

John Haering said in a FaceTime interview Friday that he’d “much rather be on the cruise ship” than in isolation.

“Here my bed is a 3-inch pad and I have to use, the pillows were like a bean bag, so I basically used my sheet as my pillow. I get my three meals a day, which are Japanese meals, which is a huge difference.”

On the ship, he said, he slept comfortably in a “nice bed” and enjoyed television with American stations.

“They brought us meals with fruit, juices, water, whatever you want,” he said. “Here you get what’s put through the slot. I’m concerned if my wife, if she tests positive, she’d have to come to a facility like this. So, I’m hoping for the best on that.”

Melanie Haering hadn’t been tested as of Friday morning in Japan.

Just 19 hours before Mark Jorgensen made the announcement about his wife, he posted that there were no new cases reported on the ship. He said the crew also delivered an iPhone 6 to each passenger that was loaded with apps and would assist in communication and getting medical information.

The Associated Press reported that as of Feb. 15 in Beijing, more than 67,000 cases of coronavirus had been confirmed worldwide and more than 1,500 people had died.

Contributing: Matt Rascon, KSL TV

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