While Craig Breimhorst, the first Rice County resident with a confirmed case of COVID-19, deals with fever, chills and fatigue, those he came in contact with just prior to his diagnosis are waiting out their 14-day quarantine.
Breimhorst woke up March 14 after flying back to Minneapolis from Israel late the prior evening, with a fever and slight chills. Breimhorst, a former Faribault pastor, called Allina Health in Faribault and the clinic administered a test for the virus.
Breimhorst, 71, who led Christ Lutheran Church in Faribault for 30 years, learned Tuesday he contracted the virus. He’s been in self-quarantine since returning from the clinic.
“The only time I’ve been out of the house was to drive to the clinic and back,” Breimhorst said late last week.
He’s still suffering from a fever and fatigue.
“I’ve had a fever everyday, but it’s been lower,” he said. “I’m just tired a lot.”
Breimhorst has alerted everyone on the trip that he has contracted the virus. Breimhorst, who works part-time at Trinity Lutheran in West Concord, was part of a Lenten Holy Land pilgrimage to Israel and Jordan with a group of several members from different congregations in the Faribault area. The group left March 1 before travel restrictions to Israel and other places began and returned to the U.S. March 13.
Israel is listed at Level 3 by the U.S. Department of State as a destination to reconsider traveling to. On March 5, the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health announced seven confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the West Bank city of Bethlehem and its surrounding suburbs while Israel estimated as many as 14 cases at that time. On Monday, there were more than 1,000 confirmed cases in Israel, a county with a population of 6.55 million.
The group traveled to Jordan but returned to Israel a day before Jordan shut down its border.
“This thing all got crazy when we were over there,” Breimhorst said. “If there would’ve been any danger in this at all, we wouldn’t have gone.”
Breimhorst will remain self-quarantined for a total of 14 days and those who had contact with him remain in quarantine for 14 days from the last time of contact. Public Health officials recommend anyone 70 years and older, and those with underlying health conditions stay home as much as possible and avoid gatherings and other instances of potential exposures, including travel.
Current recommendations are that anyone sick with respiratory symptoms or fever, should stay at home for seven days after illness onset or 72 hours after resolution of the fever, whichever is longer. The majority of people infected with COVID-19 experience mild symptoms and make full recoveries but it has had more serious impacts on the elderly and those with underlying health issues, and puts a strain on medical resources.
Breimhorst hasn’t had any breathing issues and stays fit, he said. He wear a mask in the home when he and his wife, Carol, are on the same floor level and the couple has separate bathrooms that they use, Breimhorst said. He’s had medication for nausea delivered and left at the doorstep without problem.
“People have been awesome,” he said. “We just got some chocolate chip cookies at the doorstep.”
Our Savior’s Lutheran Church Director of Faith Formation Kira Anderson and her husband, Mitch, were on the trip with Breimhorst and remain in self-quarantine with their three children. They have not shown any symptoms.
Kira had been to the church prior to learning that Breimhorst contracted COVID-19 but the church announced it suspended all activity March 14.
“Kira came into the space but no one other than our staff has been in the space,” Our Savior’s Lutheran Pastor Jeff Sandgren said. “We have controlled as best we can any contact with the potential virus.”
The church has conducted services through Facebook and will continue to do so. The congregation has rallied to help the Anderson family as well.
“I know that if I needed something that members of my congregation would leave things on my doorstep,” Kira said.
For now the family is finding activities to do at home. The Andersons have worked on puzzles, the children have worked on reading and watched a live stream from the Cincinnati Zoo. If anyone in the house develops symptoms, the 14-day self-quarantine period restarts, Anderson said.
During the trip the group remained vigilant to wash their hands and follow guidelines.
“We never went into any place where there was any sign of the disease,” Breimhorst said.
Both Breimhorst and Anderson feel it’s important to remain transparent about the situation so rumors don’t swirl.
“I think it’s important to be transparent,” Anderson said. “It’s important that we get the facts.”