Episcopal priest, first coronavirus case in nation's capital released from hospital

The Reverend Timothy Cole, rector at Christ Church, Georgetown, an Episcopal Church congregation in Washington, D.C., in a 2016 photo.
The Reverend Timothy Cole, rector at Christ Church, Georgetown, an Episcopal Church congregation in Washington, D.C., in a 2016 photo. | Facebook/Timothy Cole

The first confirmed case of coronavirus in Washington, D.C., an Episcopal priest, has been released from the hospital and is continuing his recovery at home.

The Rev. Tim Cole, rector at Christ Church Georgetown, recently garnered headlines when he became the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the District of Columbia.

Chad Thorley, senior warden of Christ Church Georgetown, told media that Cole had been cleared to return home and was discharged on Thursday.

“He spent three whole weeks in the hospital. That was a long ride for him and a long ride for all of us,” Thorley, told news station WTOP. “And the recovery has been slow, but he’s definitely on the upswing now, and he’s resting comfortably at home.”

Thorley also said Cole “had some serious issues with his lungs themselves, and that will take some time to repair itself.”

“So now that he’s home, it’s basically just rest and taking it easy, doing some work from the house, but not anything like he would usually be doing if he hadn’t had this happen,” Thorley added.

Cole tested positive for the coronavirus in early March and was hospitalized. His diagnosis was considered alarming in part because he had encountered scores of congregants.

“I can now confirm that I am the individual [in Washington, D.C.,] who tested positive for the coronavirus,” Cole wrote in an email to parishioners on March 8, according to The Georgetowner.

“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.”

In an update sent to the congregation on March 15, Christ Church’s staff reported that Cole was “fever free and feeling pretty good.”

The church also noted in the update that other members of their congregation “with confirmed cases of COVID-19 are resting at home and continuing to improve.”

“Continue to reach out to your neighbors, particularly those whom you might not have contacted previously. Let’s care for one another and continue to hold our community in prayer,” the church's update added.

News of Cole’s improvement comes as D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a stay-at-home to take effect on Wednesday to help curb the rate of coronavirus infections in the area.

The stay-at-home will allow residents to leave their homes only under certain conditions, including necessary medical care, essential business, obtaining food, and recreational activities under certain restrictions.

Residents who violate the order can be fined up to $5,000 and imprisoned. 

“Staying at home is the best way to flatten the curve and protect yourself, your family, and our entire community from COVID-19,” said Bowser in a statement released Monday.

“Many people want to know how they can help right now, and for most people this is how — by staying home.”

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