Chapel Congregants at Virginia Seminary Possibly Exposed to Coronavirus

The chapel is part of the largest Episcopal seminary in the United States

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Virginia health officials are urging congregants and visitors to the chapel at the largest Episcopal seminary in the country to monitor themselves for symptoms of the coronavirus after a Washington, D.C., resident with COVID-19 recently spent time there.

The Alexandria Health Department was notified Tuesday that a D.C. patient went to the Immanuel Chapel of the Virginia Theological Seminary on Seminary Road between Feb. 26 and March 4, the health department said in a release.

The Very Rev. Ian Markham, dean of the Virginia Theological Seminary, told News4 that the organist of Christ Church Georgetown in D.C., who now has COVID-19, recently played at the chapel. In addition, some seminarians attended a Lenten event at Christ Church where they came into contact with the church rector, D.C.'s first coronavirus patient.

Markham said 14 seminarians are in voluntary isolation.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the exposure to congregants "low risk," the health department is recommending anyone who visited the chapel on those dates monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days from their last visit.

"Self-monitoring includes checking body temperature twice a day and monitoring for symptoms of cough, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath or temperature higher than 100.4 F," the health department said.

Anyone who was potentially exposed at Immanuel Chapel and has any of these symptoms, or develops them within 14 days of visiting, should call the Alexandria Health Department at 703-746-4988, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. They should also self-isolate and limit contact with others, health officials say.

Individuals who visited Immanuel Chapel during the above dates but do not have the above symptoms do not need to call, according to the health department.

The health department says it is identifying and contacting individuals who are at higher risk to provide further guidance.

Founded in 1823, the Virginia Theological Seminary is the flagship seminary of the Episcopal Church.

Four people have tested positive for the virus in D.C. A rector in his 50s at Christ Church Georgetown was the first person to test positive. A 39-year-old organist at the same church later tested positive as well.

Eight people have tested positive for the virus in Virginia.

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