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Coronavirus COVID-19 vaccine trial subject's parents denied virus test

Corrections & clarifications: An earlier version of this story included incorrect information about Zach Wurtz’s status in the trial of a vaccine for COVID-19. He is currently in the evaluation process and could be one of 45 people selected to be test subjects for the first phase of testing the vaccine.

YORK, Pa. – When Bridget and Adam Wurtz came home from teaching at their church on, March 11 in Hanover, Pennsylvania, Adam didn’t feel well

He was tired and just felt run-down. He had a cough. The next morning, he woke with a fever; his temperature was 102. He stayed in bed. 

Friday morning, Bridget woke up having difficulty breathing. She checked her temperature, and it was 102.  

They suspected they had been infected with COVID-19. Their doctor suspected that as well, and although they were at risk of becoming critically ill because of their ages – Bridget is 62 and Adam is 63 – they did not meet the criteria to be tested for the virus. Their doctor explained that they had to have a fever of at least 103 or be ill enough to be admitted to a hospital to be tested. 

They stayed home and stayed away from people. 

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Little did they know that their 36-year-old son, Zach, living 3,000 miles away in Seattle, was participating in a project that has the potential to change the course of a global pandemic. 

Zach Wurtz is one of the test subjects participating in trials to develop a coronavirus vaccine.

‘I just wanted to help’

Washington was the canary in the coal mine of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, the first state in which COVID-19 was identified as having landed within the nation’s borders, on Jan. 21. As the rest of the country was still relatively complacent about the new disease, thinking it was something that was confined to China, Washington State was bracing for the worst.  

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