The Reverend Timothy Cole attended a church conference in Louisville, Kentucky, with clergy from across the country in late February.
He went home to Washington DC and started to feel like he had the flu.
“I went to bed for three days, the fever subsided, I waited another 24 hours and got up, I felt good. I went back to work, ”he explained.
What he didn’t realize at the time was that he was going to become the American capital coronavirus “Patient zero”.
A native of Edinburgh, the Reverend Cole moved to Washington three years ago to become rector at Christ Church, Georgetown.
After the Kentucky conference, he continued to deliver sermons to his flock before realizing how sick he really was. He eventually collapsed and was taken to hospital where he tested positive for COVID-19.
“You just go on the normal highway, then suddenly you get hit and you find yourself on this very dark little path and you have no choice but to follow it,” said Reverend Cole.
He spent 21 days in hospital, where he received oxygen and was placed in the intensive care unit.
“The thing with this disease is that the doctors really can’t do much. You sit while your body improves or gets worse. “
On March 7, the mayor of Washington announced that the coronavirus had arrived in the city. Reverend Cole was the first patient in Washington. Cases in New York, California and Texas have been linked to the same church conference he attended.
The Reverend also discovered that his church organist and four other parishioners were infected.
“I thought about the people who contracted the virus after me and the inconvenience people have had to endure.
“The whole congregation was quarantined for two weeks because of me. “
Washington DC now has more than 500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and the mayor has issued a home stay order.
“I was the first case in Washington, so it was obviously not something I expected. It was a bit of a shock, “said Reverend Cole.
He and his wife Lorraine are grateful for the congregation’s response to his diagnosis.
“They stood by our side and prayed for us. They were very supportive and lavished us with affection and kindness. “
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The former British Army chaplain will deliver a virtual reading at Christ Church at Easter.
“It’s so sad that this 200-year-old church is closed for the first time on Easter Sunday.
“Who knows when I will be in the pulpit again. “