There has been 142 cases of Coronavirus in New York State, however there have been no confirmed cases of Coronavirus in or around Oneida County. It is flu season, and the Catholic Diocese of Syracuse has decided to take steps to ensure that no viruses are being spread in Catholic churches. Father Joseph Salerno is a Pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes Church. He talked about why the church is taking precautionary moves locally.
"We’re trying to make transmission of this virus as minimal as possible and as best as we can, so take into consideration the people who have gathered here and especially those who might be directly behind you."
Those attending mass are encouraged to refrain from extending hands during the sign of peace. A simple smile or nod is acceptable.
Holy Communion should be received in the hand rather than on the tongue, and patrons should refrain from drinking from the chalice.
Those distributing communion should be practicing good hygiene, including hand washing before and after communion. Pastors may also take additional steps like suspending the use of holy water.
The hand sanitizer in the church's fonts is not meant as a replacement for holy water. It’s merely a reminder to use good hygiene while you’re in church. Father Salerno doesn’t want to create any kind of panic, but he does feel the church’s actions are an important step in keeping people from contracting the corona virus.
"Because we have very little if any protection against that particular virus, however the flu really seems to be rearing its ugly head as well, and we need to be conscious of that, so it’s not about coronavirus alone. It’s about healthy practices."
The Diocese is encouraging the current practices until health officials have better treatment options available.
To keep up on the most current information about the spread of the Coronavirus, you can visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus