05:07 GMT29 May 2020
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The US priest who became in early March the first person in Washington tested positive with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) said that he hopes the pandemic will make all humanity stronger physically and spiritually.

    "We can pray and think about other people in our families, in our communities," father Timothy Cole, 59, a rector of Episcopal Christ Church Georgetown said on Friday. "These two things will make us stronger against fear."

    The world, he added, came through multiple terrible things in the past.

    “I believe this situation will bring us to a new day," the priest said days ahead of the Holy Week for Western Christians.

    Father Timothy had been tested positive in the beginning of March. He supposed he got the virus at a church conference in the city of Louisville, Kentucky.

    "There were people from across the country there, and some people were contracted," he said.

    The priest spent 21 days in the hospital, including the intensive care unit, and is currently recovering at home: "I am feeling pretty good, a little bit stronger every day".

    Speaking of his first symptoms, Cole said it was like some flu with "bad feelings” in the throat and mouth.

    "I waited 24 hours to be sure and went to the emergency room. I think it was serious but I was not aware of this. I think that helped me.”

    The priest expressed gratitude for his doctors, parishioners, family and friend for their support. He also said that he felt God’s presence with him.

    "Yes, I did feel His presence in the hospital room. My experience shows me that God always [is] present in the troubles or in the challenges of life. It is hard to describe how I did feel that. Just lying in bad and dealing with this illness. I just had a sense of His Presence there," he said.

    Father Timothy, who served several years in Afghanistan as a chaplain, noted that he always feeling God’s support in difficult situations.

    "It was pretty hard," he noted. "Our vehicle was destroyed once. I just remember a tremendous feeling of God’s presence there."

    Cole refrains forecasting on recovering and returning back to the church.

    "Not pretty soon. I am going to have to pace myself and make sure that I feel better at the same time," he said.

    Six other people from the same parish have contracted the virus, as well as 550 quarantined parishioners, father Timothy shared.

    The priest does not know when the church could reopen after the closure, but predicts that it will happen not earlier than mid-May.

    "We have online service scheduled on Palm Sunday, Monday through Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and for Easter morning," he said. "There will be readings, music and sermon, people will be able to conduct worship and see familiar faces and hear beautiful music."

    Washington has currently registered 757 coronavirus cases, while 15 people have died, Mayor Muriel Bowser said Friday.

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