New Manna pastor and wife are first two positive COVID-19 cases in McDowell

After McDowell County officials announced Monday evening that two people in the county had tested positive for the coronavirus, the Rev. Tony Shirley of New Manna Baptist Church posted on social media that he and his wife are the first two cases in McDowell.

MCDOWELL COUNTY — After McDowell County officials announced Monday evening that two people in the county had tested positive for the coronavirus, the Rev. Tony Shirley of New Manna Baptist Church posted on social media that he and his wife are the first two cases in McDowell.

In his post on Twitter, Shirley said, “Thanks for praying. Me and Becca both tested positive today for COVID19. God is always good and that includes right now! We want Him to be glorified through this.”

Numerous friends and church members wished them well and said they were praying for the Shirleys. New Manna is one of the largest and most active churches in McDowell County.

On Wednesday, New Manna Baptist Church issued a statement:

“As many of you know, our pastor and his wife tested positive yesterday for COVID19. Our church has been consistently cooperating with and submitting to the mandates of the governor throughout this whole ordeal, and the pastor has been in close communication with local, public health officials over the last week, and has complied with and abided by all of their instructions. Furthermore, we have cooperated with the health department in communicating with any and all people who would have been in personal contact with them in that time. We will continue to work hand in hand with the EOC and local health officials to protect the citizens of McDowell Co. Thank you to all who have extended prayers and kind wishes.”

Shirley is 47 and his wife Becca is 42.

“We are in isolation,” he said Wednesday afternoon to The McDowell News. “I feel fine with very mild symptoms, but my wife, who already deals with some autoimmune issues, has had a fever and a slight cough. As far as fear goes, we have been guided very clearly by the local health professionals and they have assured us we have handled things properly. Thank you.”

When asked by The McDowell News where he believed he and his wife may have been exposed to coronavirus, Shirley declined to answer, saying in an email response, “I will let our statement and the public statement that the health department put out answer all further questions.”

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