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First Utahn diagnosed with coronavirus tests negative, third tests positive

The same day John Haering tested negative for the first time in 14 days, another Utahn from the same cruise ship, Mark Jorgensen, tested positive

Melanie and John Haering are pictured during a fresh air break while being quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan, on Feb. 6, 2020.
Melanie and John Haering are pictured during a fresh air break while being quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan, on Feb. 6, 2020.
Melanie Haering

SALT LAKE CITY — The same day a third Utahn from the Diamond Princess cruise ship tested positive for the coronavirus, the first Utahn to contract the virus tested negative for the first time in his nearly two week stay at a Japanese hospital.

“Well, I just got the news I’ve been dreading: I’ve tested positive for the coronavirus,” Mark Jorgensen posted on Facebook Tuesday night. “(I) was going to do a video, but I look like hell. (I) will be transferring to a local hospital within a few hours. (My) temperature normal and no other symptoms. Go figure.”

Jorgensen, a resident of St. George, has had two kidney transplants, the most recent in 2015. He was considered medically at risk on the ship, which is one of the reasons he and his wife were tested, even though neither of them had symptoms. His wife had a slight fever the night of Feb. 14, and was confirmed positive the next day. She was taken from the ship to a hospital a few hours after confirmation, even though her fever had subsided and she’s never had any other symptoms.

Mark Jorgensen is quarantined at Travis Air Force Base in California, along with another Utahn, Melanie Haering, from Tooele. While they flew home on a flight chartered by the U.S. State Department and U.S. Embassy in Japan last week, both of their spouses remained in separate Japanese hospitals after testing positive while quarantined on the ship.

Those passengers quarantined in Japanese hospitals must have two negative tests back-to-back in order to be released from the hospital. After that, there are requirements from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for re-entering the country.

While Jerri Jorgensen tested positive for the virus on Monday (Utah time), John Haering, who was the first Utahn diagnosed, received some good news Wednesday (Tokyo time).

“All of his tests came back negative — saliva, nose swab, throat swab,” according to his wife, Melanie Haering. She announced the good news in a video where she choked back emotion. “I just got off the phone with him. I could hear the doctor in his room. ... One more test tonight and tomorrow, they will get the results, and if it’s negative, he just has to pass a few requirements for the CDC and he can come home.”

John Haering has been battling pneumonia, and his wife said he’d received calls from Rep. Chris Stewart. She repeatedly thanked family and friends for their kind thoughts, earnest prayers and positive vibes.

“I know John was not very ... well, he was kind of down,” she said. “This is fantastic news. Prayer works, these good positive vibes work and love for one and other works. I’m sorry I’m so emotional. I don’t get a lot of sleep. One more test and he’s going to be on his way home. Thank you for everybody, thank you for your love. This is just incredible news. Prayers work.”

Melanie Haering said she was tested at Travis Air Force Base, but has not received the results yet.

Jerri Jorgensen is staying in a hospital in Fukushima, Japan, while John Haering is in isolation in a hospital in Chiba. Jorgensen has shared numerous videos on Facebook of the gifts delivered to her from members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including a wide variety of fresh fruit and local treats.

John Haering, on the other hand, has struggled to get basic information from either the cruise line or U.S. government officials, although that appears to have changed now that Stewart’s office is involved on his behalf.