Brian Purcell, founder of Henrico nonprofit ‘The Way,’ tests positive for COVID-19


(WRIC) — Brian Purcell, founder of The Way, a local non-profit organization that helps the community struggling with hunger, unemployment, homelessness, and drug or alcohol addiction, has tested positive for COVID-19.

The organization aims to provide a “hand-up in life,” by using “food donations as a stepping stone to more in-depth assistance within the organization.” But Purcell is having to put his work on hold as he recovers from the virus.

8News evening anchor Constance Jones reached out to Purcell to speak about the days leading up to his diagnosis.

“Last Wednesday, I went in Patient First, I thought I had the flu,” Purcell told 8News from his hospital bed. “I was having sweats and fever. I tested negative and they said based on my respiratory, I did not have the coronavirus. So they told me to take two days bed rest on Saturday. I felt really good, lots of energy. But when I came in, I spiked a fever and had a hard time talking.”

In a Facebook post on Sunday, Purcell shared that he started to feel sick Saturday after mowing the lawn. He ended up spiking a fever and shortness of breath, symptoms relative to COVID-19. Both Purcell and his wife were then tested for the illness.

The next day, Purcell confirmed he and his wife tested positive for COVID-19.

“My wife, she works at the hospital, she was starting to feel ill too, so she called in and they told us to come into the Nelson clinic,” Purcell said. “Right away they sent us to the emergency room and that’s when we were tested.”

Both remain at the hospital under two trial treatments. Purcell says his recovery is going well, however.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” Purcell told 8News when asked how he was feeling. “I have hot and cold flashes. Today is actually the first day that I have not spiked a fever.”

Just last month, 8News spoke with Purcell about the Henrico non-profit’s efforts in delivering meals to seniors with virus concerns. Purcell and his team delivered 40 bags of food on Wednesday, March 18 to dozens of seniors at the Imperial Plaza assisted living facility in Richmond.

On Friday, a resident at Imperial Plaza, tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to an email sent to residents and family members.

As for the future of the organization, Purcells says he made the decision to shut down operations, for now, to “to cut down the risk of anyone else getting sick.”

“It saddens me,” he said, “because there are a lot of people in need of our services.”

Click here if you would like to help “The Way.”



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