Story at a glance

  • Bowser said she is considering declaring a public health emergency.
  • Rev. Timothy Cole was the first coronavirus patient in Washington, D.C.
  • The D.C. Health Department said there is “medium risk” for those who came within 6 feet of Cole on Feb. 24, and between Feb. 28 and March 3.

Health officials in Washington, D.C., are advising hundreds of people who visited a historic church in Georgetown to self-quarantine after its rector tested positive for the novel coronavirus. 

During a news briefing Monday, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser asked anyone who attended services at the Christ Church, Georgetown Episcopal on Feb. 24, or between Feb. 28 and March 3, to self-quarantine for 14 days since the last time they visited the church as the city’s health department investigates whether any exposure occurred. 

The city’s health department was notified of a case of COVID-19 at the church Saturday. 

The church said the Rev. Timothy Cole, its top-ranking clergy member as rector, tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday and is in stable condition at a local hospital. The church canceled all activities including church services until further notice out of an abundance of caution. Cole was the first known case of coronavirus in the District.


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Cole did not have a history of travel or contact with a confirmed case. 

“This is a fluid situation,” Bowser said Monday. “We continue to ask residents to stay home if they’re sick, and to call a health care provider if they’re sick with symptoms including fever, cough or shortness of breath.”


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Anjali Talwalkar, senior deputy director for the community health administration at the D.C. Health Department, said there is “medium risk” for those who came within six feet of Cole on the dates mentioned, and recommended those people self-quarantine for 14 days since the last time they visited the church. 

“That is when our case was symptomatic, so anybody who was potentially exposed during that time, out of caution and best practices for disease control, that’s the recommendation,” Talwalkar said Monday

Cole oversaw services attended by more than 500 people on March 1, shook parishioners’ hands and provided communion during the morning services, according to the Washington Post. There is no immediate estimate of how many people came into close contact with him through the period health officials specified. 

Bowser said she is considering declaring a public health emergency and will decide later Monday. 

More than 560 coronavirus cases have been reported in the U.S., with at least 22 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.


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Published on Mar 09, 2020