FAIRFIELD (CBS SF) — Mark Jorgensen was among the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship passengers airlifted from Japan to Travis Air Force Base just over a year ago.
At the time, few knew what lay ahead with the virus outbreak in Northern California. Mark and his wife, Jerri, had booked the cruise with friends to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary.READ MORE: Multi-Vehicle Crash Shuts Lanes Of Highway 101 in Petaluma
They flew to Tokyo from their Utah home on Jan. 20, 2020 and boarded the Diamond Princess to begin a two-week holiday cruise that included stops in Hong Kong, Vietnam, Taiwan and Japan.
For the most part, the voyage had been uneventful. They were forced to have their temperature taken and wear a mask when they left the ship, but all seemed normal. They had packed their bags and were ready to depart the ship on Feb. 3 when the captain made an announcement at dinner.
They would be forced to remain aboard at the Japanese port because government officials would not allow them to get off.
Days later Mark would be among the Americans put onboard a plane to Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield. However, his wife, Jerri, had come down with COVID. She had a fever and few other symptoms but would need to remain hospitalized in Japan.
On Feb. 16, Mark was on one of the flights that arrived at Travis and placed like the others in a 14-day quarantine. He also eventually would test positive for the illness and be hospitalized in Folsom.
They both eventually recovered and were reunited, returning to their home in Utah.READ MORE: Body Found At Scene Of Fire At San Jose Restaurant
With the one-year anniversary this month, Mark recalled those dark days.
“I honestly wasn’t surprised when they told me I was positive,” he said but then fears crept into his mind. “The loneliness the fear of what if? What could possibly be going on? What might happen?”
And there was the separation once he tested positive.
“I was sitting there (in the hospital) and a big wall of glass and people looking at me,” he said. “I felt like a gold fish…I would notice my mind having these wild thoughts. I’m going to die in this hospital bed … never see anyone I love again.”
Public health officials handle cases like Mark and Jerri’s differently now. Today, the couple would have merely self-quarantined at home.
“My doctor and I had this conversation I’m like you know every single one of these people that tests positive you’re not going to be able to do this with,” he said.MORE NEWS: San Francisco Man Charged With Auto Body Shop Break-In, Shoplifting
When asked if he felt like a Guinea pig at the time, he said: “That was my unique experience in life.”