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DC church reports its rector tests positive for coronavirus

Posted at 3:41 PM, Mar 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-08 20:48:03-04

WASHINGTON -- A prominent Episcopal church in Washington has suspended all activities after announcing that one of its senior leaders was the first person in the nation’s capital to test positive for the coronavirus.

A statement from Christ Church Georgetown says the church rector, the Rev. Timothy Cole, is in stable condition after being hospitalized Saturday night.

The church has has canceled all activities including church services until further notice.

According to the church's website, Cole has been the rector since September 2016. It says he's married and has two children.

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser said during a news conference Saturday evening that the man in his 50s started exhibiting symptoms in late February.

“The person has no prior history of travel outside the United States,” DC Health officials said. “While this is first case in the District, there is still no widespread community transmission and the general level of risk for residents is low.”

Bowser said another man, from Nigeria, who had passed through Washington has also tested positive for the virus in Maryland.

“DC Health is conducting contact tracing of that patient and individuals with known contact,” Bowser said.

Additionally, authorities said a marine stationed at Marine Corps Base Quantico tested positive for COVID-19.

Pentagon chief spokesman Jonathan Rath Hoffman said the marine who tested positive Saturday is being treated at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital.

“The Marine recently returned from overseas where he was on official business,” Hoffman said.

Officials with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) said they are working with Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, according to "longstanding public health protocols."

"The teams are in regular and close communication with federal, state, local, and private sector partners, VDH officials said.

News of the marine’s diagnosis marked Virginian’s first official case of COVID-19. Health officials are awaiting the results for seven others being tested and said 139 people are currently being monitored to see if they develop symptoms.

"Public health officials caution that evidence has not been seen of COVID-19 spreading in Virginia and said the risk is low," VDH officials noted.

Virginia health officials reminded folks to take the following precautions:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are unavailable.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

Coronavirus cases swell in US

The number of U.S. coronavirus cases swelled to 541, with cases in about half of the states. Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska and Pennsylvania also recently reported their first cases.

The death toll from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, rose to 21 Sunday.

Eighteen people in Washington state, two people in Florida and one person in California have died.

Worldwide, the virus has infected more than 109,800 people and killed over 3,800, with the vast majority of them in China. Most cases have been mild, and more than half of those infected have recovered.

Watch CBS 6 News and depend on WTVR.com for complete coverage of the coronavirus crisis.