Diocese Not Immune to Coronavirus
By Penny Wiegert, Editor
August 20, 2020
DIOCESE—By now Catholics in the 11-county Rockford Diocese are used to diocesan protocols for attending Mass in a pandemic. 
While it is far from a preferred method of worship, everyone is adjusting to signing up for Mass, wearing a mask, being seated by ushers, receiving the Eucharist in the hand for the time being, refraining from physical contact for the sign of peace, using hand sanitizer and holding no gatherings before or after Mass, just to name a few. 
For the sake of health and safety, Catholics have been doing what they have to do to be in the presence of Christ.
Some should stay home
However, some folks are still advised to avoid coming to in-church Masses and still others, due to the ongoing spread of the virus, are not yet comfortable coming to Mass in-person and may be part of the group more vulnerable to contracting the coronavirus. 
For that reason, Mass on television and on the internet is still being offered all across the diocese including by Bishop David Malloy every Sunday at 9 a.m. on the diocesan website and Facebook page. 
Bishop Malloy also offers a short devotion and prayer every Wednesday online. And for all those unable to participate in Mass in-person, a dispensation is still in place.
Virus still spreading
The diocese and its parishes are doing all they can to protect people while they receive the sacraments. Yet, with all the precautions in place, the virus continues to surge in many areas and has found a way into our Catholic communities.
According to Msgr. Glenn Nelson, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia, since the 105 parishes in the diocese have opened for in-person Masses, 10 parishes reported positive cases of 
COVID-19 within their congregations. Two of those parishes have had repeat positive cases but there is no known connection between the cases. 
In each instance, parishes followed the diocesan directives to notify those attending the particular Mass with the person or persons testing positive so they will know they may have been exposed and may exercise personal cautionary monitoring procedures according to CDC guidelines. 
“This is why signing up for Mass is still an important step in our health and safety protocols,” Msgr. Nelson said. 
He added that the protocols are in place so people can continue to gather for prayer and the sacraments “knowing that their well-being is paramount despite the ongoing presence of the virus in our nation and local communities.”
One priest tested positive and was hospitalized since the reopening in June and one person tested positive at the Diocesan Administration Center. 
“These numbers tell us that we must continue our vigilance in wearing masks, hand washing and social distancing as directed by health professionals. And more importantly, these positive cases tell us that our continued prayers for an end to the pandemic and support for all those working toward that end, are absolutely vital,” said Msgr. Nelson.
Editor’s note: Parish numbers reported here were as of Aug. 17. Diocesan schools are not included in this report because they were just beginning to open at press time.


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