Efforts Encouraged to Promote Safe Worship Environments, Prevent Spread of Flu
(PROVIDENCE, R.I.)-The Most Rev. Thomas J. Tobin, Bishop of The Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, today issued to parishes a number of suggested precautions to promote safe worship environments for the faithful during the current influenza outbreak. The precautions are not mandatory, rather, suggestions for pastors to consider when assessing local conditions.
“As pastors committed to promoting and protecting the well-being of our parishioners, we need to be as cautious and prudent as possible in responding to this public health threat…,” wrote Bishop Tobin to pastors. “Since conditions vary from one locale to another, I believe that the most effective approach is at the level of the local parish. Nonetheless, during this most recent influenza outbreak I strongly recommend that pastors consider appropriate measures to ensure the health and safety of parishioners.”
Following the latest Rhode Island Department of Public Health categorization of the statewide estimate of influenza activity as ‘widespread,’ pastors may consider the following practical precautions to help prevent the spread of the flu virus:
- The Sign of Peace need not be announced or exchanged.
- The distribution of the Precious Blood of Christ in the chalice should be discontinued for the time being.
- Eucharistic Ministers should use hand sanitizer before Mass or even immediately before distribution of Holy Communion.
- Provide hand sanitizer at the doors of church and school buildings.
- Parishioners are dispensed from – and should not attend — Holy Mass if they have symptoms of serious illness.
- Ask the Lord’s protection upon our community during this time of widespread illness.
The recommendations mirror those issued in 2009 during the H1N1/ Swine Flu outbreak.
- Bishop’s Memo to Pastors
- Rhode Island Department of Public Health Influenza Page
- Centers for Disease Control: Seasonal Influenza
- RI DOH: Flu Prevention
- CDC: Flu Prevention
- CDC: Flu Basics
- CDC: 2012-2013 Flu Season
- CDC: How the Flu Spreads
- CDC: People at High Risk for the Flu
- CDC: Flu Symptoms
- CDC: Information for Schools & Child Care Providers