Catholic Diocese Works to Prevent Spread of Flu
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TONAWANDA, N.Y. -- At Blessed Sacrament Church, it's a normal Sunday service, except for a few changes.
Last week, the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo issued an order of the precautions churches should take to prevent the spread of the flu.
“We received a statement from Bishop Malone and we're reminding people that if they've had the flu or someone in their house has it, they really shouldn't receive communion under the species of the Precious Blood or from the cup," said Father William Quinlivin.
That’s not the only change. There's now hand sanitizer on the altar and around the church. Parishioners are also being asked to forego the traditional sign of peace handshake.
"In my church, we're making it a smile, a wave, a word of peace,” said Father Quinlivin. “You know hand contact is one way it can be spread so we're just trying to be really careful. It's just important to have respect for everyone else’s health as well as your own.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, it’s been a particularly bad flu season, with cases being reported in 47 states.
Parishioners here at Blessed Sacrament say they welcome the changes.
"I like the way they're doing the precautions, it's really good," said parishioner Ed Miller.
"I'm still just getting over a cough and I don't want another one," said parishioner Jim Malloy.
"I think people that are ill should stay home just like we're told to do and if you're well enough come on out," said parishioner Dan Brundz.
Officials at the CDC say this year’s flu season started relatively early compared to other flu seasons and say it normally peaks in January and February.
Catholic Diocese officials say they'll likely keep the precautions in place until the flu season is over.