SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — One year ago a cruise ship from Japan carrying hundreds of American passengers docked in the port of Oakland.
The first wave of U.S. citizens exposed to the novel coronavirus were then bussed to Travis Air Force base. CBS13’s Laura Haefeli reunited with a passenger she interviewed one year ago who says the whole experience still feels surreal.READ MORE: Researchers: ‘Solar Canals' In California Could Save Water, Fight For Climate Change
Last February, Mark Jorgensen became one of the first Americans to test positive for COVID-19.
“I honestly wasn’t surprised when they told me I was positive,” Jorgensen said in an interview on February 28th, 2020.
Twelve months later, Mark says the memory of it all is surreal. We asked Mark how it felt to be in the first wave of the new virus.
“The loneliness the fear of what if? What could possibly be going on? What might happen?” Jorgensen said.
When the virus first hit the U.S., people flying back from Asia or shipping in on cruises were mass-quarantined at military bases.
Jorgensen was at Travis Air Force Base when he tested positive. He was escorted to a Folsom hospital by U.S. Marshalls and locked in a containment room.
“I was sitting there and a big wall of glass and people looking at me I felt like a goldfish,” he said.
The Utah native was 800 miles from home and completely alone.READ MORE: Shock G, Off-Kilter Leader Of Bay Area's Digital Underground, Dead At 57
“I would notice my mind having these wild thoughts. ‘I’m going to die in this hospital bed, never see anyone I love again,'” Jorgensen said.
Mark, who is an addiction and recovery counselor, was in a crisis of his own, forced to remind himself what he teaches to so many others.
“Just be present, don’t live in the fear of the future or regret of the past. This was an opportunity for me to practice what I preach. I can’t change it anyway by worrying about it so,” he said. “God grant me the serenity to accept what I can’t change the courage to change what I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Public health officials now handle cases like Mark’s differently. One year ago, he had no symptoms.
“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.
Instead of hazmat suits and ICU stays, symptomless COVID-19 patients simply stay home.
“I asked my doctor and he’s like, ‘Yeah, we’re recognizing the reality that people are going to have to quarantine at home.’ That was my unique experience in life,” Jorgensen said.
Since Mark landed in California, the state has had more than 3.5 million coronavirus cases and 51,000 deaths.MORE NEWS: 'The Damage Is Bad': Sacramento Neighbors Fed Up After Wayward Golf Balls Keep Hitting Homes, Cars
Mark and his wife, who also had the virus, are back in Utah and both are feeling healthy.