By Kirk Petersen

All Sunday services and other activities have been suspended indefinitely at Christ Church in the Georgetown section of Washington, DC, where the rector has been hospitalized after becoming the first person in the district to test positive for the novel coronavirus.

In a letter to parishioners, the Rev. Timothy Cole wrote:

First, I want to assure you that I will be okay. I am receiving excellent care and am in good spirits under the circumstances. I will remain quarantined for the next 14 days as will the rest of my family.

The Washington Post quoted a spokesperson for the church saying that “Cole was present for three services last week attended by 550 people,” although it was not clear whether he had personally administered communion. Church officials could not be reached Monday morning. Bishops throughout the country have announced a variety of changes in communion practices in response to the coronavirus.

The 202-year-old church at the corner of 31st and O Streets has an average Sunday attendance of more than 400, placing it in the top 2% of Episcopal churches in the United States, according to parochial report data. In addition to four eucharistic services each Sunday, the church conducts Holy Eucharist every weekday at noon.

On the other side of the country in Washington state, the Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel wrote to the Diocese of Olympia:

We do now have one instance of possible spread by an individual(s) while in our churches which occurred at Emmanuel, Mercer Island. I want to reiterate there is no evidence at all that these people contracted it there, but simply they have become ill since attending.

Washington has been hit harder than any other state by coronavirus. State health officials on Sunday said 18 people there have died from the disease.