Father Alejandro Trejo from the Diocese of Yakima in Mattawa, Washington is the first Catholic priest in the United States known to test positive for COVID-19.
Father Trejo, the pastor of the Our Lady of the Desert Parish in Mattawa, came down with a high-grade fever on March 1st and began a self-quarantine after his final Mass on that day under a local healthcare provider’s supervision.
On March 7th, he was hospitalized at the Kadlec Medical Center in Richland, Washington with symptoms of pneumonia. After two tests earlier this week were inconclusive, a third test came back positive for COVID-19 late Sunday night.
Since then, Father Trejo has been placed in a special isolation unit with only two visitors allowed per day provided they don protective medical gear. Bishop of Yakima Joseph Tyson was one of those visitors, and said after meeting with Trejo:
“Father Alex continues to recover well and we are appreciative of the prayers of many, many parishioners, and the excellent care of the hospital staff. We also are very thankful for the work of the Grant County Health District. Mattawa is a close-knit community, and the parish is the center of many people’s lives. The parish church is small and usually filled to overflowing, especially at the Spanish Masses.”
It’s unknown how Father Trejo was infected with coronavirus. However, he did make an eight-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land, returning on February 18th. Those on the trip were contacted by public health officials, along with all who were in close contact with Trejo since his return.
Father Trejo is expected to be discharged from the hospital in the coming days to continue his recovery at a private residence.
You can read the official statement from the Diocese of Yakima here.