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'I was patient zero.' Middle TN dad speaks on COVID-19 recovery, community kindness

The man said he's still recovering -- and friends, neighbors and even strangers are helping from afar.

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Tenn. — Less than two weeks ago, Tennessee officials announced the first COVID-19 case in the state. 

A father who lives near Nashville said he was that first patient. "These past few weeks have certainly been interesting, to say the least," Chris Baumgartner, 44, wrote in a public Facebook post. 

Baumgartner said his experience with the virus itself was mild. The real problem, he said, was fear. 

"Imagine having to confront a virus so feared, it now has the entire world on the brink of mass hysteria," Baumgartner wrote. "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."

The family also received an outpouring of support from their community. 

"At the same time, we’ve also experienced human kindness at its very best," Baumgartner wrote. "We’ve watched an entire community rally behind us in our time of need."

Friends and strangers alike sent the family messages of love and support -- and helped in other ways. 

"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," Baumgartner wrote.

Baumgartner said the community's true, helpful nature shone through in the stressful situation.

"Something incredible happens when fear and anxiety are replaced with acts of kindness and compassion," he wrote. "God can be experienced in a whole new way for everyone involved." 

Baumgarter said he continues to recover. He ended his post with a message: #bethechurch.

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