Care required to ensure good health
As the flu season continues, and amid growing concerns about the possible spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, now is a good time to remind everyone about best practices for hygiene during Eucharist and other services. (Many thanks to our friends from the Diocese of New Jersey for sharing these tips.)
- Parishioners who are coughing or sneezing should refrain from handshaking during the Peace. Fist bumps, elbow bumps, friendly waves, and peace signs are all acceptable substitutes.
- Avoid intinction (the dipping of the bread into the wine). Intinction does little to avoid the spread of disease and may actually increase the spread, as the bread or wafer spends more time in the (possibly unclean) hand before being dipped in the wine. There has never been much evidence of risk of disease associated with the shared communion cup, but of course each parishioner must make up their own minds about its use.
- Churches should make hand-sanitizers available for parishioners to use. Sanitize hands before and after contact with others.
- In addition, priests presiding at the Eucharist, communion administrators and servers should wash their hands, preferably with an alcohol-based (minimum 60%) hand-sanitizer.
Best hygiene practice should continue to be observed in all pastoral contacts.
According to Episcopal Relief & Development, our role in responding, as churches, dioceses and compassionate Christians, is to:
- Combat fear with knowledge in order to encourage preparedness and decrease stigma.
- Maintain operational continuity and continue worship life in the case of potential quarantine and disruption.
- Show God’s compassion and care to those in our communities who are affected.
These are general guidelines; decisions should be made in collaboration with Church leadership and health authorities, based on local practices and safety concerns.
ERD has compiled resources for a Faith-Based Response to Epidemics that are worth checking out.
Latest information from the Centers of Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
Information from the World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
Toolkit from the US Chamber of Commerce: https://www.uschamber.com/coronavirus