HOLTVILLE — For Imperial Valley residents who think living in a small community protects them from the ravages of COVID-19, Holtville Trinity Baptist Church Pastor Richard Moore shared an experience that paints another picture.
“You’ve heard about the dry cough? I tell you that cough is relentless, and it doesn’t let you go. I am still not 100 percent on an oximeter machine. I am averaging 95 percent now. At my lowest I was at 80 percent. When I got oxygen deprivation there were times I couldn’t think and would take 25 minutes to send a text message,” said Moore during a June 23 interview.
“On May 28, during a Thursday night church service (held via Zoom), I started having allergies and a little bit of a cough, then started running a fever. I thought, ‘oh my goodness, this is COVID,’” said Moore, who immediately went home and contacted Dr. Tien Vo to get tested.
“I knew Dr. Vo because I prayed before meetings he held informing the community about COVID. After I got tested, he called me back and told me I was positive. I took me 22 days to get over it,” said Moore, who attributed his ability to recover at home in leu of a hospital visit to Vo’s prescription.
“Dr. Vo prescribed (hydro)chloroquine, a Z-pack (antibiotic azithromycin) and aspirin. I also took zinc, vitamins C and B1 and ibuprofen, which helped with pain and fever. Those are the things that helped me and kept me out of the hospital,” said Moore, who felt that two weeks of his life were gone.
“I lost 20 pounds and couldn’t eat for 14 days. One of my favorite foods is eggs, and I couldn’t even eat that. Now on Day 27, I’m better but still recovering and out of quarantine,” said Moore, whose caretaker and wife, Tammy Moore, contracted the virus from him. The pastor said his wife’s quarantine ended June 23.
Throughout the storm in Moore’s personal life, his flock did not forget about their shepherd.
“The city heard we got COVID and brought food by. Family members and church members brought food by at their own risk. They would run up to the door, ring the bell and run away. Unfortunately, I couldn’t eat for two weeks. Not even coffee. Thank God I can drink coffee again,” Moore laughed.
Eight to 10 members of Moore’s congregation with whom he had had no contact have contracted COVID-19 since he became ill.
“Most of the members in our church who got COVID were asymptomatic. The few people who got sick, we don’t know how they got it. We haven’t had anybody in our congregation that was seriously sick except me,” said Moore, who told county Public Health Department contact tracers he did not know how he contracted COVID-19 when they contacted him via phone.
“I am healthy, exercise, have a good diet, and I still got it. A lot of people in our church did get it, but that was prior to us having our reopening service at the end of May,” said church secretary Lynne Ming, who contracted COVID-19 from her husband but was asymptomatic.
“There are a lot of people that don’t have symptoms. There is more of that to be honest, in my opinion. I wear the mask and follow all the rules and still got sick. The only reason I got tested was because I was exposed. My husband and I are both fine now,” said Ming, who was frustrated that she could not go to the bank or get groceries even though she felt great.
Having pastored at Trinity Baptist for 39 years, Moore had never missed more than one Sunday in a row. By the time he plans to return to leading church services on July 1, he will have been away from his church for six weeks.
“I came down with it and I gave it to my wife. Pray for everybody. It can be a serious disease. Don’t take anything for granted. I’m trying to figure out how I got it. I don’t have the answer, but I know it’s real,” said Moore, giving some poignant words of advice to his community. “This has made me realize in this time we need to make sure we have a genuine real relationship with Christ. If going to church is something you’re doing to feel good about yourself, that’s not it. This has confirmed to me that I need to be faithful in helping people meet Jesus Christ. He is the real deal,” said Moore, who felt throughout his recovery his strength came from God.