Diocese Updates COVID-19 Protocols for Parishes
By Penny Wiegert, Editor
August 26, 2021
In a letter to pastors Aug. 20, Bishop David Malloy issued temporary modifications to the Diocese of Rockford’s COVID-19 protocols.
“In light of the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases and what we are told is a rapid spread of the Delta variant, I find it necessary to make some temporary modifications to the Diocese’s COVID-19 protocols,” Bishop Malloy wrote.
Effective immediately, all priests, deacons and Extraordinary Ministers of Communion regardless of their vaccination status should sanitize their hands prior to distributing Communion and wear masks during  the distribution of holy Communion at Masses, Communion services, and whenever holy Communion is distributed including to the homebound and hospitalized. 
“I reiterate from the Diocese’s most recent guidelines of June 10, 2021, that those who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear a mask at Mass. No one is to be asked about their vaccination status or to document that status, and the cooperation and good will of all is presumed in this matter,” Bishop Malloy wrote.
The letter also instructed parishes to implement any COVID-19 mitigations issued by the local cities or counties in which parishes are located. 
In his letter, Bishop Malloy also reminded priests and pastors that as stated in a letter issued June 10, 2021 “parishes and diocesan facilities should continue to accommodate those who are not vaccinated and those who may feel more comfortable seated around others who are wearing masks or who wish to social distance. 
Parishes are to designate a space in the church for parishioners who wish to social distance and wear masks during Mass or find some other way to accommodate such people at Mass. 
Parishes may have to revisit the amount of space they currently offer and expand it depending on parishioners’ needs.
Under the new updates, holy Communion will continue to remain under one species for the faithful, and if inadvertent contact is made when someone is receiving on the tongue, the hands of the person distributing Communion should be sanitized before giving Communion to the next person. 
All parishes are also asked to continue to omit the Sign of Peace and to continue the use of only long-handled collection baskets held by ushers or a centrally located collection basket for envelopes to be deposited.
Parishes are also advised to continue to clean surfaces regularly as a preventative measure, and to make hand sanitizer available for employees, parishioners, and visitors in all churches and offices.
According the Illinois Department of Public Health on Aug. 20, Illinois reported 4,904 new infections, the highest number of cases since Jan. 23. Viral transmission is considered high in all 102 counties in Illinois.
The new protocols are posted in English and Spanish at www.rockforddiocese.org
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