Family, Friends Battled Disease in Faith Connected by Facebook

Carl Rinker waves as he is discharged from Penn State Milton Hershey Medical Center 40 days after he was admitted to the ICU for COVID-19 complications. Today is the first day his wife, Laura Rinker (left) , and daughter Georgia (center) have been able to see him since he was admitted. Photo: Linda Williams/Special to

(HERSHEY, – Today, after 40 days in the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center battling COVID-19, including three weeks hooked to a ventilator in the ICU, Carl Rinker, 63, emerged victorious over the disease.

It’s only fitting that Rinker was discharged on a rainy day, after all, rain fell for 40 days and 40 nights on Noah during the Flood.

The spiritual significance of 40 days is not lost on Rinker’s wife, Laura Lou, an active Christian who believed and prayed for a miracle along with her family, friends, church, and Carl’s former co-workers at Three Mile Island, just some of the thousands who have followed the family’s COVID-19 odyssey through Laura’s Facebook posts that have been shared far and wide.

Laura Rinker saw her husband for the fist time in 40 days when he was discharged from the hospital today after beating COVID-19. Photo by Linda Williams/Special to

The Rinkers are active in their church, where Carl plays guitar with the worship team. Next week, the couple will celebrate their 37th wedding anniversary. The 40-day forced separation has been the longest they have been apart in their marriage.

During the past 40 days of ups and downs, Laura Lou has been supported by the many on Facebook who have shared encouraging posts, prayers, and words. Some have confided to her that they had never prayed before, others that they became believers in Christ along the way.

The Rinker’s coronavirus story started in March, when Carl, who the goes by the nickname “Cork,” developed a cough around the same time as his adult daughter, Georgia, shortly after the family visited daughter Becca and their newborn grandchild in Maryland. Next Laura Lou, a long-retired labor and delivery nurse, became ill. They suspected they were all battling COVID-19. All three would eventually be diagnosed with the disease.


Carl was admitted to Penn State Hershey on the couple’s second trip to the facility. His symptoms worsened over a week at home after being tested for COVID-19, and after digging out an old oxygen monitor, Laura Lou learned Carl’s levels were dangerously low.

Carl Rinker and daughter Georgia reunited today after her father’s 40-day hospitalization for COVID-19. Photo LInda Williams/Special to

As she rushed him back to the hospital, she could barely understand him due to his fits of coughing. He was admitted immediately, but Laura Lou was not able to accompany him. He was among the first patients hospitalized at Penn State MSHMC with COVID-19 symptoms.

Thus began what would be an emotional roller coaster ride during his hospitalization. Carl was placed into a coma that night, hooked to a ventilator, and multiple organs started to shut down. At one point, medical center staff called to tell them to prepare for his passing.

But that’s all behind them now.

Today, they are celebrating his release from the hospital. Carl has had two negative COVID-19 tests, so he’s been accepted into a local rehabilitation hospital.

While he still has a long way to go in rehabilitation, the family is grateful that Carl has recovered, and thankful for all the prayers and support from their online friends, who she calls her “warriors.”

A sign made by a friend for Carl Rinker’s release following a 40-day hospitalization for COVID-19. His family and friends prayed for a miracle.

“You have all been such an amazing cheer team! You got me through my darkest hours with your prayers, dedication and feeling the love expressed in each message/comment/text. There will never be words to express my gratitude and amazement!” Laura Lou posted.

“Because of your obedience to God and asking for a miraculous healing in what was considered a pretty hopeless situation, my husband will be soon coming home!” Laura Lou posted on Saturday.


She has also expressed gratitude for the level of care he received from medical personnel at the hospital, and for their daily updates. But most of all, she is grateful to God for his faithfulness in healing her husband.

More about the Rinker’s journey will be published in the next few days on Follow award-winning LititzDaily on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.¬†Message us on the Facebook page with any news tips. Lynn Rebuck is the editor of


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Lynn Rebuck is the editor and publisher of award-winning, the only independent digital news source in Lititz. Lynn is an award-winning photojournalist who was invited to the White House and has received top recognition from the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association, Pennsylvania Women’s Press Association, National Society of Newspaper Columnists, and has been profiled in Editor & Publisher magazine for her unparalleled dedication to publishing to benefit the community.