Editor’s note: With our coronavirus coverage, our goal is not to alarm you but to equip you with the information you need. We will try to keep things in context and focus on helping you make decisions. See a list of resources and frequently asked questions at the end of this story.
In Northern Kentucky, Bishop Roger Foys has announced the suspension of Masses and Sacraments in the Diocese of Covington.
This applies to public weekday and Sunday masses in every parish church, in every chapel and oratory, in every religious house and in any of its institutions and is effective starting Friday, March 20.
"To suspend the public celebration of the Eucharist and other sacraments is the most difficult decision I have ever had to make in my 47 years as a priest and 18 years as a bishop," Foys said in a statement online. "I make it with a heavy heart and with profound sadness."
Also in Ohio, The Catholic Conference of Ohio has temporarily suspended all publicly celebrated Masses and liturgies in the state amid the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.
The conference, chaired by Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, announced that Masses would be suspended through Easter, which this year falls on April 12.
"This decision is not taken lightly and, as your bishops, causes us great sadness," Schnurr's statement read. "However, after consultation with the governor and health officials we are convinced that this is the most prudent and necessary action. Science has proven that participation in public gatherings significantly increases the risk of contagion. This poses a serious danger to those especially most vulnerable."
Daily and weekend Masses from the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains will be available to live-stream online here and on the Archdiocese of Cincinnati Facebook page. Daily Mass will be available online at 8 a.m. Monday through Saturday. Sunday Mass will be live-streamed at 11 a.m.
"Please join us in praying for all who are suffering from illness or disease of any kind, for all health care workers, and for an easing of the anxiety and tension caused by this situation," the statement read.
Previously, the conference announced it would dispense the state's Catholic faithful from the obligation of attending Sunday Mass through the weekend of March 29.
Find more coronavirus/COVID-19 hotlines and resources below:
- Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 833-4-ASK-ODH
- See ODH’s COVID-19 resources here.
- State COVID-19 hotline: 1-800-722-5725
- See the Cabinet for Health and Family Services coronavirus resource site here.
- DH Epidemiology Resource Center: (317) 233-7125 or (317) 233-1325 after hours, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
- See more information for coronavirus in Indiana here.
What is coronavirus, COVID-19?
According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are "a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
A novel coronavirus, such as COVID-19, is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in 45 countries across the globe, including in the U.S., according to the CDC.
The CDC reports the initial patients in China have some link to a large seafood and live animal market, indicative of animal-to-person spread. A growing number of patients, however, did not report exposure to animal markets, indicating the disease is spreading person-to-person.
What are the symptoms? How does it spread?
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death, according to the CDC. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath.
The CDC said symptoms could appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. It is similar to the incubation period for MERS.
Spread of the virus is thought to be mainly from person-to-person. Spread is between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Spread occurs via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
According to the CDC, it could be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, the CDC said.
The disease is most contagious when people are the sickest and showing the most symptoms.