The Rev Timothy Cole had been at a church conference in Louisville, Kentucky, with clergy from all over the USA at the end of February. When he returned home to Washington DC he felt unwell and started to show flu-like symptoms.
Suddenly you get whacked and you find yourself on this really small dark path and you’ve got no choice but to go down it
Rev Timothy Cole
He told Sky News: “I went to bed for three days, the fever broke, I waited another 24 hours and got up, felt fine. I went back to work.”
But despite his brief recovery, Rev Cole was about to become the Washington’s first case.
He continued to deliver sermons before he eventually collapsed and was rushed to hospital where he tested positive for COVID-19.
He said: “You’re just going along the highway of normality and then suddenly you get whacked and you find yourself on this really small dark path and you’ve got no choice but to go down it.”
He was in hospital for three weeks, given oxygen and placed in intensive care.
He said: “The thing about this disease is the doctors really can’t do very much.
“You’re sitting round waiting for your body to get better or worse.”
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Rev Cole was the first patient in Washington DC but cases in New York, California and Texas have also been traced back to the Kentucky church conference.
He later found his church organist and four parishioners were infected with coronavirus.
He said: “I was thinking about the people who got the virus after me and the inconvenience people had to go through.
“The whole congregation was quarantined for two weeks because of me.”
Washington DC now has over 500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and city mayor Muriel Bowser has issued a stay-at-home order.
Rev Cole said: “I was the first case in Washington so obviously it wasn’t something that I expected. It was a bit of a shock.”
He and wife Lorraine said they were grateful for the congregation’s reaction to his diagnosis.
He said: “They stood beside us and prayed for us. They have been a tremendous support and lavished us with affection and kindness.”
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Originally from Edinburgh, Reverend Cole moved to the US capital three years when he was appointed rector at Christ Church, Georgetown.
The former British army chaplain will be delivering a virtual reading at Christ Church this Easter.
He said: “It’s so sad this church, which is 200 years old, will be shut for Easter Sunday for the first time.
“Who knows when I’ll stand in the pulpit again.”
Four new states imposed sweeping stay-at-home directives last night, putting more than 80 percent of Americans under lockdown as the number of deaths in the US nearly doubled in three days.
The governors of Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Nevada each instituted the strict policies on a day when the death toll from COVID-19 shot up by 925 to more than 4,800 nationwide, with 214,000 confirmed cases.
Donald Trump said he saw no need for the federal government to issue a nationwide decree, with 39 states and the District of Columbia now requiring residents to stay home except for essential outings to the doctor or to shop for essentials.
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