Rapides Parish pastor, RPSO chaplain recovers from coronavirus, shares experience

Rapides Parish pastor, RPSO chaplain recovers from coronavirus, shares experience
Rev. James S. Hardison Sr. (Source: KALB)

ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Just two weeks ago, life changed for the pastor of Greater Live Oak Baptist Church and chaplain for the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office, Rev. James S. Hardison, Sr., when he began experiencing coronavirus symptoms.

“It was a very devastating, scary experience,” Rev. Hardison said. "I had never felt anything like that in my life.”

Rev. Hardison told us that on Monday and Tuesday of the week of March 22, he felt perfectly normal. When he went into work at the sheriff’s office on Wednesday, he was screened for coronavirus as a precautionary measure. That’s when he found that his temperature was 100.7 degrees. He was sent to the Rapides Parish Coliseum for further testing.

“They swabbed my nose at the Coliseum, which was very, very painful but very, very helpful,” said Hardison. “Because had not they done that, I would not be where I am today.”

It wasn’t long before he began to exhibit other symptoms: aches, pains, and chills. After calling his doctor, he was advised to go to the emergency room at Christus St. Francis Cabrini in Alexandria, where they discovered he had pneumonia.

“I’ve been inside ever since,” he said.

He expressed the severity of the virus.

“It’s very harmful. It will kill on the spot. The best thing you can do is to make sure that you take heed to the procedures and the precautions that the governor has given,” Hardison warned.

From the beginning, he made sure to listen to authority, especially when it came to leading his congregation.

“The governor stated that all churches should be closed. I was in total agreement with that because we as pastors are responsible for our sheep,” he said. “All of us are affected in one way or another, either indirectly or directly. Stay positive and stay prayed up. Stay safe. Stay healthy. Look out for one another. And if we look out for one another, let the health department do their job, and God will do his job.”

Rev. Hardison says that he did not get his official, positive COVID-19 test results until last Friday, April 3. For the past two weeks, he and his wife have stayed on opposite sides of the house. He also said he improves a bit every day, and felt better on Thursday than he has in two weeks.

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