Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Recent reporting on the spread of the COVID-19 “Coronavirus” gives all of us pause and reason to be concerned about our own health and the health of those around us who are most vulnerable to contracting disease. Still recovering from a different strain of influenza, I know first-hand just how much we become impacted by viral infection. Therefore, it’s natural that many parishes and pastors have been approached with concerns about what precautions can and should be implemented, especially now that there are confirmed cases here in South Dakota. The coronavirus has already directly impacted one of our Catholic schools and parishes and is likely to affect others in the near future.
Let us first of all remain mindful that researchers have confirmed that the Coronavirus is spread in ways that more typical forms of influenza are spread. Therefore, as is usual for when influenza is locally prevalent in eastern South Dakota, some usual precautions which have been issued in the past are still applicable. I have listed these below.
Above all of these practical things, I ask all Catholics to pray for the protection of the infirm. Pray that our most senior brothers and sisters and any others who are vulnerable might be spared from this infection. Pray for the healthcare providers and civil servants who put their lives at risk to serve those who become ill. Prayer is a most essential component to our community response to this epidemic. Within the liturgical Norms, pastors are afforded discretion to modify liturgical practices as seems prudent for the community. If modifications are deemed prudent and implemented in parishes, communication of the changes to all parishioners is essential.
Also read the Preparedness Document provided by Catholic Mutual