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D. C. rector tests positive for Coronavirus

D. C. rector tests positive for Coronavirus


Washington, D.C.

The rector of Christ Church Georgetown has tested positive for the Coronavirus. He was the first known case in the nation’s capital. The Rev. Timothy Cole presided over communion the Sunday prior to testing. He had attended a recent meeting of the Consortium Endowed Episcopal Churches. Sunday services were canceled yesterday.

What should parishioner’s do? In a message (posted in full below) to parishioners, Cole writes:

The obvious question at this point is what you should do. First, please read the information provided on the CDC’s website, linked here. If we are given any firm advice by public health officials, we will pass it to the Christ Church community as soon as possible. In the meantime, we have been asked to let parishioners know that should you experience any symptoms, please contact your healthcare provider.

Again, information from the CDC is here.

In a message to participants, CEEP wrote:

We are also monitoring the recommendations given to organizers of other conferences where attendees have tested positive. So far, their expert opinion has been that simply attending a conference with someone who tests positive is not a risk factor. Please refer to the guidance given by D.C. health officials to the attendees at the recent AIPAC Policy conference where two attendees tested positive for COVID-19.

If you develop symptoms that are associated with COVID-19, you should seek medical attention immediately.

The Washington Post:

Cole fell ill shortly after attending an Episcopal conference in Louisville on Feb. 22, church spokesman Rob Volmer said. His health improved before he attended church events last weekend, including four services attended by 550 people March 1.

Cole provided Communion to parishioners during the 11:15 a.m. service, Volmer said, and washed his hands before doing so.

Cole, who did not appear to show symptoms then, had been vigilant about using hand sanitizer available throughout the church and washing his hands, and had spent part of his services reminding parishioners about good hygiene practices, Volmer said.

But Cole’s health deteriorated after Sunday, and he was diagnosed with the flu on Tuesday, Volmer said. He was admitted to a hospital Thursday, and a coronavirus test came back positive Saturday.

The church provided the Washington Post with this timeline:


A letter from the Rev. Timothy Cole, Christ Church Georgetown:

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Dear friends in Christ,

As you are now aware, we have suspended all services and meetings at Christ Church until further notice in response to a presumed positive case of Coronavirus in our community. As we said before, we did not make the decision to close our doors lightly, but out of an abundance of caution for the most vulnerable among us. There is no need to panic. Following sensible precautions provided by the CDC will go a long way towards insuring the good health of our community.

I can now confirm that I am the individual who tested positive for the Coronavirus.

First, I want to assure you that I will be okay. I am receiving excellent care and am in good spirits under the circumstances. I will remain quarantined for the next 14 days as will the rest of my family.

Many of you will want to speak by phone or email; however, at this time, rest is what I need most, and it will be difficult for me to respond. Should you have any situations requiring pastoral care, please do contact ….

The obvious question at this point is what you should do. First, please read the information provided on the CDC’s website, linked here. If we are given any firm advice by public health officials, we will pass it to the Christ Church community as soon as possible. In the meantime, we have been asked to let parishioners know that should you experience any symptoms, please contact your healthcare provider.


Father Tim

The Reverend Timothy A. R. Cole, Rector


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Bruce Cornely

I have been an organist/choirmaster for over fifty years and all of my choirs have received the same admonition: IF YOU ARE SICK OR NOT FEELING WELL STAY HOME! Especially in a time of risk it is neither safe nor considerate to expose others to ANY illness.

JoS. S Laughon

From lightning and tempest; from earthquake, fire, and flood; from plague, pestilence, and famine; from battle and murder, and from sudden death,
Good Lord, deliver us.

B. D. Howes

Dr Drew Pinsky, MD:

“A bad flu season is 80,000 dead, we have about 18,000 dead from influenza this year and 100 from corona,” said Pinsky in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “Which should you be worried about, influenza or corona. 100 vs. 18,000, it’s not a trick question. Everything going on with everyone using Clorox wipes and get your flu shot, which should be the other message… that’s good. I have no problems with the behaviors. What I have a problem with is the panic and that businesses are getting destroyed and people’s lives are getting upended. Not by the virus, but by the panic.”

He goes on to say “The panic must stop. And the press, they really somehow need to be held accountable because they are hurting people.”


Hi, I hope this isn’t against comment policy, and to the above poster, I do not intend the following as a personal attack – but anyone reading your comment should know that the interview in question that you quote from was taken from an interview between a social media content creator with a focus on entertainment news and a television personality doctor during an interview on the tv personality doc’s latest film. This was not exactly a hard-hitting interview. This was entertainment banter. This particular slice of the movie-promo interview is currently going viral without a lot of documenting where it comes from and what the interview was about. Context matters, so I feel I have to comment on that.

Regarding fear and coronavirus, I’m linking to an op-ed from Karen Huster, a nurse and field-coordinator for Doctors without Borders — it was published in the Seattle Times and re-published on the Doctors Without Borders website, where you can read it without hitting a paywall.

There’s one particular section that really struck me in her piece & I’m trying to keep in mind:

“COVID-19 is a new disease and, as such, it is normal that people worry. From previous experience responding to outbreaks, I know that one of the key pillars of any response is engaging with communities everywhere — to educate, listen, understand and address their fears and concerns. Unfortunately, rumors, fake news, and conspiracy theories can play a prominent role in spreading misinformation about this new disease, stoking unnecessary and harmful bouts of panic. To counter this, clear, timely, measured and honest communication and guidance from our public health officials will be paramount.”

EpiscopalCafe (and John Chilton specifically!), thank you for being part of the solution by publishing in your piece here on Christ Church Georgetown such clear information and a precise break-down of events. Finally (and most importantly) I know I join many in wanting to offer my prayers for a speedy recovery for Father Tim, and I’ll be keeping the whole congregation in my thoughts. Peace.

B. D. Howes

You don’t like Dr Drew Pinsky (who I went to school with) so you hit him with an ad hominem, then you quote Ms Huster who seems to agree with him on the panic issue. Personally. I don’t get it, I am repulsed by ad hominem attacks to which I rarely respond but feel the need to stress the point being made (by both doctor and nurse) that misinformation and panic are dangerous.

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