Infectious-disease specialists refuted a report that stated that COVID-19 has “infiltrated Sunday services, church meetings and youth camps,” linking more than 650 cases in the United States to “religious facilities.”
The New York Times reported that “new outbreaks of the coronavirus are surging through churches across the country where services have resumed.”
Infectious-disease specialists told the Register that church services — where proper precautions are observed — are no more dangerous than other indoor activities.
Carlos del Rio, an infectious-disease expert at Emory University, said in the Times’ report that church gatherings are “an ideal setting for transmission. … You have a lot of people in a closed space,” del Rio said. “And they’re speaking loudly; they’re singing. All those things are exactly what you don’t want.”
However, two doctors contacted by the Register said that 650 cases — in a nation with more than 3 million confirmed cases — is a very small number, and key components like wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing can be the difference between spreading the virus and not.
‘Mass Is Essential’
The Thomistic Institute recently published guidelines adapting World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommendations to celebrating Mass and administering sacraments during the pandemic. The guidelines, which were prepared at the request of bishops, outline appropriate measures for each phase of the pandemic response.
Dr. Thomas McGovern, a former clinical research physician for the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and one of the authors of the guidelines, told the Register, “We believe that Mass is essential and that it can be done safely.”
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