coronavirus

New Orleans Archbishop First American Prelate to Test Positive for COVID-19

Pope Francis greets Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans during a meeting with U.S. bishops from Regions IV and V making their “ad limina” visits to the Vatican, Dec. 3, 2019. (Photo: CNS)

By Christopher White, National Correspondent

NEW YORK – New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond has announced that he has tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the first Catholic bishop in the U.S. to publicly announce being infected with the coronavirus that has caused a global pandemic.

In a statement released March 23, the 70-year-old archbishop said he had recently experienced mild symptoms and was tested out of an abundance of caution, only to receive a positive diagnosis.

“I have notified those with whom I have been in close proximity,” he wrote in a statement. “Needless to say, I have self-quarantined in order to be responsible and not affect others.”

“I will use this quiet time for additional prayer and sacrifice for all those seriously affected by the virus,” he continued. “I pray to get well soon and continue ministry. In the meantime, I will be present through Facebook and the archdiocesan website with reflection on this crisis and God’s healing power.”

Archbishop Aymond has led the Archdiocese of New Orleans since 2009 and has been active in the leadership of the U.S. bishops, having served as past Secretary for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), as well as the chair of the USCCB’s Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People and the Committee on Divine Worship, among other positions.

Last week, Bishop Barry Knestout of Richmond, Virginia had announced he had been self-quarantining after undergoing testing for the coronavirus, however, the diocese announced on Monday that he had tested negative. In addition, last week John Garvey, the president of the Catholic University of America announced that he had tested positive, and over the weekend, a Franciscan friar, 59-year-old John-Sebastian Laird-Hammond, a permanent deacon, became the first known COVID-19 related fatality in Washington, D.C.

To date, 43,499 individuals in the U.S. have tested positive for the virus, which has also resulted in 537 deaths.

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