With federal health officials issuing a warning this week about the potential spread of the coronavirus in the United States, and news coming in from around the globe about extreme measures underway to stem the spread, the Diocese of Camden is issuing the following instructions:
The Diocese has always advised the faithful that sickness is a valid reason not to attend Mass or other Church gatherings where large groups assemble. At Mass, no member of the faithful is obliged: (1) to shake hands at the sign of peace; (2) to receive the Precious Blood of Christ from the chalice; (3) to receive the Body of Christ on the tongue unless that is his/her preference.
With the concerns about the coronavirus, the faithful are encouraged to take all the same precautions they would follow regarding the flu. Use normal good judgment. If you are sick or have flu-like symptoms, stay home. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is broadcast on several television channels and the sick can make a “spiritual communion” until they return to good health.
The message from the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health is to be prepared, but not panicked. The Diocese will continue to monitor advisories from Catholic and other organizations regarding precautions on the coronavirus and share any appropriate information with the faithful and the parishes.
On Feb. 18, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; Catholic Relief Services, and the Catholic Health Association of the United States issued a joint statement in response to the outbreak of the coronavirus:
“As communities and public health officials respond to the outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in China and closely monitor its presence and progression in other parts of the world, we join in solidarity and prayer for those impacted or working to treat those infected by the disease. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Relief Services, and the Catholic Health Association of the United States hope that governments will work together in partnership to improve all nations’ capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to this virus.
“The Catholic Church in the United States stands in solidarity with those affected by the coronavirus and their families, health workers who are valiantly trying to diagnose and treat patients, and those under quarantine awaiting results of their screening for the virus. We offer our prayers for healing and support those organizations, both domestic and international, working to provide medical supplies and assistance to address this serious risk to public health.
“In early February, the Holy See sent 700,000 respiratory masks to China to help prevent the spread of the disease. Within the United States, Catholic healthcare providers are at the front line of providing treatment and care to those impacted by the virus.
“We also commend the U.S. government for transporting more than 17 tons of donated medical supplies to China. This response to the novel coronavirus demonstrates the critical importance of the need to work together and to invest in crucial health care systems here and in other countries, thus preventing and responding to community-wide emergencies. We urge the U.S. Congress to support these efforts by protecting access to domestic health care safety net programs and by providing additional emergency international assistance to areas impacted by the virus.
“We also urge individuals to stay informed as information becomes available by going to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.”
Basic Facts about Coronavirus (COVID 19)