Chris Baumgartner

Some 48 hours after he posted on his Facebook page a journal of sorts about his being the first confirmed COVID-19 patient in Tennessee, Chris Baumgartner was still hearing from friends and strangers alike through reactions and comments related to his post.

By midday Tuesday, Baumgartner’s post, which was placed Sunday at 12:43 p.m., had around 2,300 “Likes,” more than 700 comments and some 1,700 shares. Baumgartner was reported to have tested positive for the coronavirus Thursday, March 5. Baumgartner, 44, lives in Williamson County with his wife, Holly, and son, a student at Battle Ground Academy and he works for Biogen, a neuroscience company

That led to a daily count of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state by the Tennessee Department of Health, which has reported 73 known cases in the first 13 days of counting.

Baumgartner, who had not responded to a message from the Williamson Home Page as of Tuesday afternoon, said in his post his “case was on the mild end of the spectrum, and I continue to recover. Mentally, our experience has been all over the board.”

He wrote that his diagnosis has led to his family’s having witnessed “mass hysteria” and “irrational panic,” as well as “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.”

For the most part, however, Baumgartner said he and his wife and son have witnessed the utmost in kindness from people they know and those they don’t.

“We’ve watched an entire community rally behind us in our time of need,” he wrote. “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. …

“Even more,” he continued, “every single act of kindness, every single message, every single call we’ve received, have all ended with the same five words: We are praying for you!’”

Below is the complete post by Baumgartner:

"These past few weeks have certainly been interesting, to say the least. My family has not only had a front row seat to the mass hysteria we are now experiencing as a nation, but we’ve also been part of the storyline. 

For those of you who don’t know, I was patient zero in Tennessee. That’s right, I’m the 44 year-old dad in Williamson County, who has a son at BGA, works at Biogen, and has 2 family 'contacts' living in my household... who really needs HIPAA anyway, right? 

Many have asked, “What has the experience been like?”

Physically, my case was on the mild end of the spectrum, and I continue to recover. 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!

At the same time, we’ve also experienced human kindness at it’s very best. 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. 

They’ve brought us meals, groceries, cards, books and games to pass the time under quarantine, and even drawings, paintings, and handmade get-well cards from their kiddos, (which we have absolutely loved!) These incredible acts of kindnesss have come from those we know, BUT MANY from those we DON’T know as well, all acting on their own accord. They weren’t representing a specific church or organized group, yet the central message they all conveyed has been the same: You are not alone. We are here for you. Even more... every single act of kindness, every single message, every single call we’ve received, have all ended with the same 5 words: We are praying for you! All.Of.Them!

What this crazy experience has taught us is this: to find 'the church' in our local community, we just have to be the church to our neighbor (Just for now make sure to stand at least 6 feet away, and wash your hands 1st 🤪). 

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.

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.

Oh... I almost forgot, if you’re wondering why we are dressed up in our protective gear, Holly extended this offer to our neighbors this week, and we’ll offer it to you as well... if anyone needs a house sitter for spring break this week we are totally available!"

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