Rector of Washington, D.C. church tests positive for coronavirus

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBS) – The first person to test positive for the coronavirus in Washington, D.C., is the prominent leader of a historic Episcopal church in Georgetown, the church said Sunday.

The Reverend Timothy Cole, rector of Christ Church Georgetown, was admitted to the hospital Saturday night and is in stable condition, the Reverend Crystal Hardin, the assistant to the rector, said at a press conference outside the church Sunday.

The church was founded in 1817 and is a fixture of the upscale Washington community, with a congregation that includes many government officials.

All services were suspended Sunday, the first time the church has been closed since a fire in the 1800s, Hardin said. Cole has been rector of the church since 2016.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the first case of coronavirus in the district on Saturday, saying a man in his 50s was presumed to be infected. Cole was diagnosed with the flu several weeks ago, Hardin said, and told of the coronavirus diagnosis on Saturday. 

Cole himself informed the church of his diagnoses and confirmed he has not traveled internationally.

The D.C. Department of Health said in a statement that it has been in contact with the church and “determined an individual’s visitation to Christ Church Georgetown warrants precautionary measures.” The department recommended “a temporary pause of services” and said it was “conducting an intensive investigation to identify any exposures to COVID-19 that may have occurred at the church,” referring to the virus.

There are more than 107,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide and 460 in the United States. Cases have been confirmed in 32 states and the District of Columbia.

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