As you are aware, two cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) have been reported in the Atlanta area. The persons infected are currently under self-quarantine in their home. Georgia’s Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey stated late last night, when she and Governor Kemp announced these cases, that “the message to the public is still low risk. No local transmission going on and wash your hands and get a flu shot.”
The best way to protect yourself (and your family) is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The CDC has recommended a set of preventative actions to help prevent the spread of all respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. These actions include the following:
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Stay home when you are sick.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask: CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility). Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
As a precaution against the flu, earlier in the winter we discontinued distribution of Holy Communion by chalice. This will continue as long as there are concerns with regard to the coronavirus.
Communion received on the hand or on the tongue remains at your discretion. Know that all who distribute the host use an alcohol-based anti-bacterial hand sanitizer immediately prior to distributing communion. If you feel more comfortable not receiving, please come forward for a blessing with your arms crossed over your chest.
During liturgies, I ask that all parishioners refrain from holding hands during the Our Father at Mass, and from shaking hands/kissing on the cheek during the Kiss of Peace.
Reported cases of COVID-19 range from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. I urge everyone to use your best judgement if you are feeling ill. As is always the case, if you are ill you are not obligated to attend Mass and, in concern for others, you should not. This also applies to any other large parish gathering.
Parents, if your child is ill, please do not send them to OLA School, OLA Preschool, the Parish School of Religion, or the nursery.
My staff and I will continue to monitor the situation with regard to COVID-19 and will reach out to you when appropriate.
Please remember in prayer all who are affected by this disease, and those who are working tirelessly with the sick, and those working to find a cure.
Yours in Mary, Our Mother,