Pastor Robert Burt, pictured with his wife, Joy, has tested positive for COVID-19.
ATHENS — The senior pastor of Danielsville Baptist Church has tested positive for COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, and is currently struggling with breathing issues in intensive care at Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center.
The church shared on its Facebook page March 23 that its pastor, Robert Burt, had tested positive for COVID-19 and was at the Athens hospital on a ventilator. Another post just over an hour later stated that all church members had been contacted and asked to self-quarantine.
A post earlier today by Burt’s daughter on a Facebook group dedicated to updates on his condition said doctors had determined her father could receive less oxygen. However, the pastor’s wife, Joy, told Lex Bowen, associational missions strategist for Sarepta Baptist Association, that Burt was still experiencing “significant breathing issues.”
Robert Burt is the first confirmed case of a Georgia Baptist pastor testing positive for the coronavirus. According to a Georgia Baptist Mission Board database, he has served as pastor at Danielsville since February 2013.
Initially, Burt had also experienced a fever at the hospital. But that has since gone away, Joy Burt told Bowen. Not exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19 herself, she has not been allowed to see her husband.
On Monday, Danielsville’s mayor signed an executive order that eliminated on-premises dining for restaurants, coffee shops, and other places that serve food. Public gatherings are limited to ten people, while barbershops, hair salons, and fitness training centers are limited to six people or less, according to the Athens Banner-Herald. Danielsville, the county seat of Madison County, last reported a population of 584 in 2017.
It hasn’t been determined when or where Burt may have contracted the virus. He apparently was not exhibiting any symptoms when he participated in a clothes closet and food bank ministry on Saturday, March 21.
Bowen asked for continued prayers for the Burt family and those at the church.
“We certainly want to pray for anyone facing a difficult situation,” he said. “And we’re going to keep praying for Pastor Robert and his family in every way.”
Scott Barkley serves as editor of The Christian Index.