One Year Later, DC's COVID-19 ‘Patient Zero' Gets Back to Leading Church Services

Rev. Timothy Cole said the experience of battling COVID-19 has left a lasting impact on his life

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One year ago, the Rev. Timothy Cole, rector at Christ Church Georgetown, fought off a life-threatening battle with COVID-19. He was known as "patient zero," believed to be the first COVID-19 case in D.C. 

But through it all, he felt a sense of calm.

“I felt upheld by so many people’s prayers who were praying for me from all over the world actually, and at the same time, I felt a great peace that God would see me through this,” Cole said. 

Cole feels sadness because so many lives have been lost, but said there is hope that the end is in sight. 

“I feel a certain amount of frustration and boredom really,” Cole said. “This has dragged on and on and on, and I’m sure a lot of us feel we just want to get on with life.” 

That is happening slowly, as he gets back to leading in-person services for small groups. 

“On Sunday, there were at least four people there who hadn’t been in church for a year, but now they’ve had their vaccines and they’re back,” Cole said. 

Cole has not yet received a vaccine, but does plan to get it when he’s eligible, and encourages everyone to get it, too. 

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While he said many church activities will remain online, nothing will replace the value of gathering in person.

“I think people will always need to be together,” Cole said.

Cole also said he is not a long-hauler, the only persistent symptom he has is a slight effect on his sense of taste. But he said the experience has left a lasting impact on his life.

“The shaking of hands, the hugs, the personal contact, the signs of affection and fellowship, you know, we’ve missed all that,” Cole said.

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