Local pastor who gained national attention for supporting police now dealing with COVID-19

Local Coronavirus Coverage

JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL) — The pastor of a local church who gained national attention for his support of local enforcement is now battling COVID-19.

When Pastor Perry Cleek’s church, Lighthouse Missionary Baptist in Jonesborough, donated $1,000 to every Jonesborough Department of Public Safety employee earlier this month, the story went viral.

That led the White House to invite Cleek to a roundtable on law enforcement.

Then, about a week later, the pastor starting experiencing symptoms of COVID-19…July 21 to be exact.

“It started with a really severe cough that lasted two or three days but it’s mostly gone,” Cleek said.

The pastor added that he was never close to the president while attending the roundtable event.

“Before we were even allowed in we were tested,” Cleek said. “And at that time I tested negative.”

Once he started experiencing symptoms, he got tested at the Carter County Health Department.

“Two of those precious ladies came out in a thunderstorm and just pouring the rain and let me set in my car and tested me,” Cleek said. The pastor isn’t sure how he got the virus.

Cleek said he never had a fever — only a cough and weakness. Then, he developed a new symptom, one that is commonly associated with COVID-19: loss of taste and smell.

“This morning I got up and tried to east some peanut butter and I couldn’t smell it or taste it at all,” Cleek said.

While the pastor says he is not afraid, he concerned about spreading the virus to others.

“My biggest fear is that I’m going to get a phone call that I’ve passed it along to some of our precious elderly people or even someone in my own family,” Cleek said.

“It is a serious illness…and it is very contagious.”

The pastor is currently self-quarantining at his home. His church canceled in-person service but Cleek is hoping to preach a sermon live over the internet this Sunday.

“I know that I’m in God’s hands, and he will take care of me no matter what,” he said. “I want people to know they can have the same peace.”

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