Utah man being treated for coronavirus, but officials say there is no risk to the public

Dr. Todd Vento, Infectious Disease Specialist at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, UT comments on the patient’s diagnosis in the video player above.

SALT LAKE CITY (KSL.com) — A St. George man who tested positive for coronavirus will be treated at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray at the request of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The announcement was made Friday evening and Intermountain Healthcare officials said the patient, Mark Jorgensen, will be housed in a “special unit that’s separate from the hospital and designed for high-level isolation.”

Hospital officials assured that Jorgensen, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 outside of Utah, does not pose a public health threat. Jorgensen arrived at the facility Friday evening from Travis Air Force Base in California.

Jorgensen was one of three Utahns aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

At a Friday news conference, officials said Jorgensen has not displayed any symptoms of the disease so far and felt “perfectly normal,” according to Dr. Todd Vento, infectious disease physician with Intermountain Healthcare.

The first Utahn who tested positive for the disease has since tested negative.

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“Intermountain will continue to work closely with the CDC and Utah Department of Health to address this issue and take every precaution to keep the patient, our caregivers, and the community safe,” hospital officials said.

Jorgensen has shown none of the symptoms associated with the disease — cough, shortness of breath and fever — before or after his transfer, which went smoothly, Vento said.

“It’s one step closer,” Mark Jorgensen told KSL on Friday. “I’m just kind of taking it a step at a time.”

Intermountain Medical Center has an emergency preparedness unit, which is specifically designed to care for patients with emerging infectious diseases like COVID-19 or even Ebola.

Jorgensen will be housed in the EPU, which is equipped with a highly trained staff that is prepared for this exact scenario, Vento stressed.

His stay at the unit is not indicative of the severity of Jorgensen’s illness — again, he is asymptomatic, but will be treated at the EPU because the staff are prepared to handle this type of case.

His time in the EPU will also help minimize any potential exposure to others.

Once Jorgensen tests negative for the virus twice, there will be zero chance of transmission and he will be discharged and able to return home.

If anything about Jorgensen’s clinical status changes, physicians will be able to intervene and treat him accordingly, Vento said.

Additionally, hospital officials will provide any updates on Jorgensen’s condition if any significant changes occur.

“The risk for Utahns for COVID-19 still remains low,” Dr. Angela Dunn, Utah Department of Health state epidemiologist, reiterated on Friday.

Starting next week, the health department will be able to run COVID-19 tests at the state lab, which is expected to significantly reduce the time it takes for results to come in.

Currently, all tests have been sent to the CDC which extends the waiting period to about three days.

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