The COVID-19 outbreak has hit home for Cynthia Phillips, a nurse, and her husband, the Rev. Dr. Jim Phillips, pastor of North Greenwood Baptist Church.

Jim Phillips


Cynthia tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Thursday, her husband said in a Facebook post Friday morning. He wrote that he had had no symptoms of the coronavirus, which are a fever, cough and shortness of breath.

To prevent the spread of the virus, the Phillipses have holed up inside their home. She has isolated herself in a room upstairs while he occupies the lower level of the house, he said.

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According to Phillips, his wife began to feel unwell on Friday, March 13, having had coughs and a low fever. A part-time office nurse, she last worked on March 11.

“She is a nurse. She knows to watch these things,” Phillips said. So, he said, she gathered her belongings and shut herself in an upstairs bedroom.

On March 14, she was tested twice for the flu at Greenwood Leflore Hospital’s After Hours Clinic. She came down with the flu a few weeks earlier, and the symptoms indicated she might have had a relapse, Phillips said.

Both flu tests were negative. This Tuesday, Cynthia was tested for the coronavirus by her doctor. The results, which came two days later,  revealed that she had tested positive.

According to what they were told by the Mississippi State Department of Health, officials were not concerned that she had exposed anybody to the coronavirus, Phillips said.  

Since she first felt sick, the Phillipses have stayed apart — the proper action to take, Phillips said he was told by a Health Department official.

On Friday afternoon, Cynthia had a temperature of 98.4 degrees. Her highest temperature, 100.5 degrees, occurred earlier this week, Phillips said.

He will be quarantined in his home until March 28. If he remains healthy and symptom-free, he is planning to go back to streaming his sermons online in lieu of in-person Sunday services at his church.

He’s required to check his temperature twice a day and report back to the Health Department. If his temperature rises to 100.4 degrees, Phillips has been advised to contact his doctor or the hospital.

Limited coronavirus test kits mean only those who display symptoms of the coronavirus will be tested.

As of Friday afternoon, 775 Mississippians had been tested, according to the Health Department.

Because Phillips wasn’t symptomatic, there was no need to test him.

When asked if it’s possible he could be an asymptomatic carrier of the coronavirus, Phillips said that he does not think he’s a carrier.

“I do not think I’ve been exposed. I have no way of knowing that, but I’m praying,” he said.

Phillips said his wife will be in isolation for two weeks. Then she will be evaluated by the health department.

A few weeks ago, Phillips told his congregation about praying big and the need for transparency. Because of that, and feeling the news of his wife testing positive for the coronavirus would eventually leak, Phillips said the news should come straight from the source.

Since going public on Facebook, the Phillipses have heard from friends far and wide. Jim Phillips said it’s been cathartic to tell their story.

He doesn’t necessarily recommend others who have tested positive for the coronavirus reveal their status, and he noted that patients’ medical information is  protected by federal privacy law. He also emphasized that because of his role as a church leader, people would ask why Phillips wasn’t leading streamed sermons.

One lingering question that will most likely be left unanswered is where Cynthia contracted the coronavirus. Phillips said he was told by a health department official that because the virus is so widespread, determining where someone picks it up — whether at work, from travel or a community gathering — is nearly impossible.

Phillips is praying that he won’t develop symptoms and that his wife will get better.

As for passing the time, Phillips said he has hours of football footage from Auburn University,  where his son played, as well as past Atlanta Braves games and Christmas movies.

He also has some backlogged projects.

“I’m going to be fine. I got plenty of entertainment,” he said.

Contact Gerard Edic at 581-7239 or

(1) comment


Sending wishes for recover and safety to Rev. Phillips and Cynthia. And gratitude for good modeling. Everybody needs to hunker down and stay home as best they can until this thing passes. If not for yourself, for health care workers.

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