When Senior Pastor Tim Lewis returned home from a trip to Ukraine on March 10, he felt fine.
But he had heard of the coronavirus alerts and decided he should quarantine himself at home for a while. Now, he's grateful he stayed home.
Lewis, who has led the Bethel Baptist Church congregation in Troy since 1986, started feeling sick with flu-like symptoms a couple days after he got home from the Ukraine, where he had helped train other pastors. On Friday, he received a notice that he had tested positive for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
He is the second positive COVID-19 case in Madison County. Overall, there have been 14 positive cases in the metro-east as of Tuesday night.
To help "calm down" fears about the virus, Lewis recorded a video posted on YouTube called "I'm a Pastor and I have COVID-19."
"I am so glad I didn't go see my doctor, I didn't go to the emergency room, I stayed quarantined," he said in the video.
"I had this nonstop cough," Lewis said, along with tightness in his lungs and no energy.
He called his doctor, who told him not to come into the office but to call the Madison County Health Department. He subsequently got tested at a drive-thru testing site in St. Louis County and found out Friday that he was positive for COVID-19.
Lewis, 62, said the hardest part of his experience has been the isolation of staying in his home alone while his wife is in Ohio.
He's been able to connect with family on social media and even gave a brief sermon during Bethel's Facebook Live service on Sunday.
"My body is fighting it off. I'm getting stronger day by day," he said. "There's still waves of some headaches and coughing."
Lewis said in an interview Tuesday night that he hopes to have his quarantine end on Saturday.
He also hopes that the damage caused by the virus helps everyone keep in mind the most vulnerable people in society. And he says his faith is with him.
"I get it. It's kind of frightening and scary and we're trying to keep everybody from getting it too quickly and overwhelming our health care facilities and it's a global problem.
"So we're praying for government leaders and officials. But I know one thing, God's in control," he said in the video. "Even when I'm sick, he's with me.
"So I'm weathering this thing but the Lord's with me and he strengthens me every day and gives me faith."
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