Local priest shares story of coronavirus recovery

NOTRE DAME, Ind. (WNDU) --- As the United States grapples with hundreds of thousands of coronavirus cases along with deaths from the disease, a local priest is sharing his story of recovery.

“For people who feel like, ‘Do I really need to worry about this?’ I think I’m maybe not a cautionary tale, but I’m certainly a person who has been personally affected by this, so it’s just important for all of us to continue to take it seriously,” stated Rev. Nate Wills, C.S.C.

A professor at Notre Dame, Wills told 16 News Now he is unaware of how he contracted coronavirus. On March 23rd, he experienced flu-like symptoms: fever, chills, and a runny nose. The Holy Cross priest immediately self-isolated and ultimately was tested for coronavirus at the South Bend Clinic. Within a few days, Wills explained he lost his sense of taste and smell, symptoms associated with Covid-19.

“That was scary, though. It was one of those moments where I’m like, ‘What’s happening?’” described Wills. “At that moment, I thought, ‘Okay, I probably have this thing.’”

His fever persisted for 10 days, something Wills said he had never experienced in the past. He also waited 10 days to receive the results of his coronavirus test.

“I wasn’t too surprised when the results came back [positive],” Wills said. “I was more worried...I just wanted to make sure that, you know, people I had been in some kind of contact with in the days leading up to my symptoms were okay. And to a person, they’ve all been okay. They did the responsible thing and self-quarantined.”

During his 14-days of self-quarantine, Wills said he was touched by the outpouring of support from his family, friends – including some who held encouragement posters outside his room on campus – and fellow Holy Cross priests.

“People were delivering meals to my room, checking in on me. You know, I had several brothers in Holy Cross who called me everyday. It was just, ‘How are you doing? Just checking in.’ It was very kind,” Wills said.

Along with prayer, Wills said drinking a lot of water and taking tylenol eased the symptoms. It also a matter of waiting for the virus to run its course.

He added having coronavirus re-instilled the difficulties associated with being sick.

“I got better, and there’s a lot of people who have different illnesses much more serious than mine who will never get better,” he said. “Illness can be really lonely and isolating. It was a challenge for me to really hold fast to my faith and to remind myself that I’m never alone, even when I’m in my room and self-isolated. I’m never alone. God is with me. Christ promised to be closest to the people who were suffering. There was a lot of deep consolation in that.”

Wills also has taken consolation in seeing people unite during the pandemic.

“I really do believe that we’re going to emerge as a community and as a country, as a world, from this much stronger – probably smarter – and maybe a little holier, just because our sense of inter-connectedness, and all of us depend on each other, and I think that’s a wonderful message we need to hear, and I think it’s bringing out the best in people to support and encourage one another, to care for one another,” said Wills. “So, I’m encouraged by that, and I think there’s a lot of wonderful reasons to hope.”

Wills’ self-quarantine ended April 6th. For precautionary reasons, he is waiting until April 9th to participate in Holy Cross communal prayer and dinner.