First Williamson County COVID-19 patient shares experience in Facebook post

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Chris Baumgartner

Williamson County resident Chris Baumgartner, the first Tennessean who tested positive for COVID-19, and his wife, Holly, dressed in their protective gear.

Williamson County resident Chris Baumgartner on Sunday shared his story in a Facebook post about what he experienced after testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) around two weeks ago.

At a press conference held on March 5 at the Williamson County Public Safety Center, state and county officials announced the first confirmed case of coronavirus in Williamson County and the state of Tennessee. Officials did not name the 44-year-old individual, however, Baumgartner later self-identified himself as “patient zero.”

After traveling from Boston, Baumgartner was not displaying any coronavirus symptoms until he returned home and voluntarily self-quarantined, according to Tennessee Department of Health officials at the press conference. 

Baumgartner’s wife and son, who attends Battle Ground Academy, both tested negative for coronavirus, according to the Department of Health. 

In his Facebook post, Baumgartner said he has been asked many times, “What has the experience been like?” 

He explained his case was mild, but the stigma surrounding coronavirus created a lot of emotions for his family. 

“Physically, my case was on the mild end of the spectrum, and I continue to recover,” his post said. “Mentally, our experience has been all over the board. Imagine having to confront a virus so feared it now has the entire world on the brink of mass hysteria, while at the same time, being forced to deal with irrational panic, people demanding to know if you are the ‘one,’ where you live, and if you might have somehow infected their child or family. It’s given us a whole new appreciation for those who live under the cloud of stigma every single day of their lives. If this is you, please know, you are not alone. We are here for you.”

Aside from the fear some have about coronavirus, the kindness of others rallying behind them was also something Baumgartner admired. From meals, board games and get-well-soon cards, the family was grateful for the community support during their quarantine period.

“We’ve also experienced human kindness at it’s very best,” Baumgartner wrote. “We’ve watched an entire community rally behind us in our time of need. We’ve had literally hundreds and hundreds of calls, messages and texts encouraging us, praying for us, and people pausing from their own challenges in life to walk through this crazy situation with us.”

For Baumgartner and his family, the experience has taught them to “be the church” after experiencing an outpouring of support from many individuals and neighbors. 

“Something incredible happens when fear and anxiety are replaced with acts of kindness and compassion; God can be experienced in a whole new way for everyone involved,” Baumgartner said. “Inside us all lies the ability to decide how we choose to deal with the fear of the unknown, how we decide determines whether fear wins out or humanity shines through. We are so grateful to be surrounded by a community who chose the latter.”

For the latest information and a current COVID-19 case count in Tennessee, visit the Tennessee Department of Health website at https://www.tn.gov/health/cedep/ncov.html.

For questions or concerns about the coronavirus, call the Tennessee Department of Health patient hotline at 877-857-2945, or visit www.cdc.gov

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