Mayor, family endure bout with COVID-19

The diagnosis left Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder and his wife, Liz, breathless.

The 37-year-old Columbia lawyer found out July 15 that he and his wife, the daughter of former gubernatorial candidate and Tennessee House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, tested positive for COVID-19.

The coronavirus has ravaged the country and world since it was declared a pandemic March 11, and scientists have raced to find a vaccine.

The results took their breathe away, literally and figuratively, landing squarely in their Columbia home.

Liz lost taste and smell and was very fatigued for two weeks. She experienced difficulty in breathing several days later. The mayor said he was very sick for three days. The children’s health was unaffected by the ordeal.

“I tell people I have been sicker in my lifetime, but never that kind of sick,” Mayor Molder said. “I would not want to go through it again. I had extreme fatigue and trouble breathing. It was like something was pounding on my chest with every breath.”

Hundreds of thoughts ran through their heads. Among them: How would the Molders take care of their three children during the pandemic? Would their lives be in jeopardy, even though they were young and strong? Could the mayor continue to serve while in quarantine? How did they catch the virus in the first place?

Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder, his wife, Liz, and children wear masks to combat the coronavirus outbreak.
Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder and his wife, Liz, take their children, Marley, Hugh and Bebe, 4 out for a frosty treat.
Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder improvises to work from his living room after being diagnosed in July with the coronavirus.

“We literally did everything by the book, washing our hands and wearing masks, since the beginning of the pandemic in March, and we still came down with the virus,” Molder said.

The city mayor has been a strong advocate of wearing masks, often criticizing Gov. Bill Lee’s statewide response to the outbreak. Molder wanted county mayor Andy Ogles to declare a mask mandate for Maury County after Lee gave county executives the authority to do so, but the Republican mayor declined, citing residents’ rights to individual liberty.