Upstate churches modify communion, traditions to help prevent fl - FOX Carolina 21

Upstate churches modify communion, traditions to help prevent flu

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(Source: Associated Press) (Source: Associated Press)
(FOX Carolina) -

The “sign of peace” and communion are traditions that many have been doing for decades, but during Ash Wednesday at one moment in mass, churchgoers were thrown off guard. They realized traditions have been altered.  

"Especially the “sign of peace.” It's a well-established habit,” said Father Jay Scott Newman. “At that moment in the mass, people often look toward their neighbor and offer their hands, so it’s hard remembering from week to week not to do that. To greet your neighbor but not offering a handshake trips people up a little bit."

No hand to hand contact, but then moments later, another change - this one in the way church members take communion. Some were still looking around for the chalice, which wasn't there.

"Discontinue the use of the chalice during the flu season so that people receive Holy Communion only in the form of the bread," Newman said.

It's the same story in several churches, doctors calling this one of the worst flu seasons they've ever seen. Half of their daily patients are coming in with flu symptoms.

"You know we are at pandemic levels right now and so prevention is really our best thing,” said Dr. David Brancati. “We are dealing with multiple strains and there's a fair number of elderly that travel to church and they are particularly at risk for the flu."

The EmergencyMD doctor said the pews also pose a risk, but only a slight one.

"They probably represent a small number of cases in terms of transmission,” Brancati said. “However, everybody across the board needs to do a really good job and do their part."

That's why churches are jumping on board. Father Newman said the bishop in Charleston asked all catholic parishes in South Carolina to modify those two moments in mass when germs can easily spread.

"There's no end in sight for this flu season yet, so it will be a little while before we consider returning to the normal customs," Newman said.

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