Second Yakima priest out of Mattawa tests positive for COVID-19

Second Mattawa priests tests positive
credit: Diocese of Yakima

MATTAWA, Wash. – The Diocese of Yakima says another one of their priests in Mattawa has tested positive for COVID-19.

Rev. José de Jesús “Chuy” Ramírez who serves the parish in Mattawa recently tested positive. More than a week ago, Rev. Alejandro “Alex” Trejo, a pastor of the same parish, also tested positive for COVID-19.

The 69-year-old priest reported mild cold and flu-like symptoms, according to the Diocese of Yakima. Grant County health officials told him to self-isolate last week until three days after his symptoms cleared. The diocese said this could be as early as March. 24. However, Bishop Joseph Tyson has asked him to stay home.

“The Grant County Health District has been reaching out to those who might have come into contact with Fr. Ramírez during the infectious phase of the illness over the past month or so,” the diocese said.

Trejo was released from Kadlec on March 18, 11 days after being in intensive care. The diocese said he was being treated for pneumonia stemming from the novel coronavirus.

“He continues to recover slowly at a private residence in Yakima, with skilled nursing care,” the diocese said. “He is in good spirits and communicating with his parishioners through social media.”

“We are appreciative of the prayers of many, many parishioners for both Fr. Alex and Fr. Chuy, and the excellent work of those caring for them,” Bishop Tyson said. Parishioners have been bringing food to Fr. Ramírez, following recommended social distancing procedures.

The bishop is considering the possibility of closing Catholic churches in the Diocese of Yakima for at least the next two weeks and urging parishioners to stay home and receive spiritual care through online resources. Many parishes have begun to livestream Sunday Masses and other spiritual exercises.