1st COVID-19 patient in Tarrant County has recovered, returned to work at Fort Worth church

The first confirmed COVID-19 patient in Tarrant County has recovered and returned to work on Sunday.

Reverend Dr. Robert Pace led an online service that was livestreamed for parishioners.

He also reflected on his battle against the virus and how it affected his family.

Reverend Pace is back leading online worship at Trinity Episcopal Church in Fort Worth after testing positive for COVID-19 on March 9.

“COVID-19 stole my breath. I’m grateful that it’s now returning,” he said. “This was a terrible, horrible sickness.”

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The reverend believes he contracted the virus at a church conference in Kentucky between February 19-22.

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He said he returned home with flu-like symptoms, but at that point, he didn’t think it was COVID-19 because Kentucky wasn’t a hot spot for the virus. A few weeks later, several faith leaders at the conference tested positive.

Still, during the weeks leading up to his diagnosis, Rev. Pace thought he was feeling better and led a church program.

“I led a program, so I stood at the front of the room, spoke into a microphone, but I stayed away from everybody that night,” he said.

The next day, however, he felt worse, and had a 103-degree fever.

He’d soon test positive for COVID-19.

“The health department did ask everybody that was there that night, all 45 people, to quarantine for 14 days and they did,” Pace said.

The reverend spent three days in the hospital.

“I was quite scared because by then I was very, very ill,” he recalled.

He later quarantined at home, away from his wife.

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“We cannot see each other, we talked on the phone and did FaceTime every day, but she would cook a meal, place it on the floor outside of my bedroom door, knock and then leave,” he said.

The Tarrant County Public Health Department signed an order releasing him from isolation and quarantine on March 19 after he had two negative tests for COVID-19.

“Even after I had the two negative COVID tests, even after the virus had left, I still had difficulty breathing,” he said.

He still doesn’t feel 100 percent, but he performed one service on Sunday, and said it felt as if he performed four. His message to churchgoers, and everyone else, was to take this pandemic seriously.

“God promises to cause breathe to enter you and you shall live. I admit that breathe is something that I do cherish but have not paid too much attention to until recently,” he said.