Tips for participating in the Mass if you’re worried about illness

The spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, which has killed 2,770 people around the world, has pastors and parishioners thinking about how to safely participate at Mass and receive the Eucharist.

While the coronavirus is receiving much more media attention than a similar virus, influenza, U.S. residents are much more likely to be exposed to the flu than coronavirus. This time of year, it’s wise to take extra precautions to stay healthy and not transmit any illnesses.

“One of the things to remember, it’s our doctrine that you receive communion completely even if you only receive the species of bread,” said Father John Hammond, Judicial Vicar of the Diocese of Nashville and pastor of St. Patrick Church in Nashville. “They have received the complete and whole Christ.

“So if people are worried about the possibility of sickness, they’re perfectly free to skip the chalice.”

If someone is sick, they are excused from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. And some people may be uncomfortable holding hands during the Our Father or shaking hands during the Sign of Peace. Those gestures are not required.

Through Feb. 26, there were 81,245 confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally, leading to at least 2,770 deaths. More than 90 percent of the confirmed cases and deaths have been in China, where the outbreak began.

In the United States, there have been 14 confirmed cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Of those cases, 12 involve people who have traveled to areas affected by the outbreak and two cases involve the person-to-person transmission of the coronavirus.
That’s far less than the number of people in the U.S. who are diagnosed with the flu every year. There’s a wide range of estimates, but according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, it’s likely well over 10 million per year, with over 12,000 people dying as a result of the illness.

According to the WebMD website, a coronavirus is a kind of common virus that causes an infection in the nose, sinuses or upper throat.

Most coronaviruses aren’t dangerous. But In early 2020, after a December 2019 outbreak in China, the World Health Organization identified a new type, which can be fatal.

The new coronavirus spreads the same way other coronaviruses do: through person-to-person contact. Symptoms can show up anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure, and include a fever, cough and shortness of breath.

Infections range from mild to serious. The virus can turn deadly if it leads to pneumonia, respiratory failure, or septic shock. Those most at risk of death are the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.

The World Health Organization, is recommending several simple precautions people can take to reduce exposure and transmission of the virus, for which there is no specific cure or vaccine.

Frequently wash your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or warm water and soap.

Cover your mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue when sneezing or coughing.

Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever or cough.

Seek early medical help if you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, and share your travel history with healthcare providers.

Avoid direct, unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals when visiting live markets in affected areas

Avoid eating raw or undercooked animal products and exercise care when handling raw meat, milk or animal organs to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods.

“We have not provided specific guidelines to parishes” about the distribution of communion in light of the coronavirus outbreak, Father Hammond said. But, the doc. Here right now the bigger, more common problem in Tennessee and the rest of the United States is the flu.

According to the Metro Nashville Health Department, flu is a seasonal respiratory (lung) infection that causes fever and a cough or sore throat. It is most common during the fall and winter months. Vaccination is the best way to protect against the flu. Seasonal influenza sometimes causes severe illness or complications, but the great majority of people recover fully without any medical treatment.

To prevent the spread of flu and other infections:

Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Use a tissue nor the inside of your elbow – not your hand

Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Or use an alcohol based sanitizer.

Don’t get too close to people who are sick. Maintain a distance of 3 feet. If you get sick yourself, avoid close contact with other people.