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.
CINCINNATI — Some faith leaders are encouraging people to stay home and worship in an alternative way amid positive COVID-19 cases in the Cincinnati area.
While Gov. Mike DeWine’s ban of mass gatherings of over 100 people does not apply to religious institutions, some religious leaders have decided to cancel in-person services.
Mayor John Cranley and several faith leaders held a news conference Friday about how congregations are responding to COVID-19. Watch the full news conference in the player below:
UC Health officials confirmed on Friday four people tested positive for COVID-19 at UC’s West Chester Hospital. The patients were treated and released, according to UC Health spokeswoman Amanda Nageleisen.
Cranley released the following in a statement:
“Clergy will continue to encourage the public to practice safe, healthy habits of social distancing, hand washing, disinfecting common spaces, while providing encouragement and prayer for our community during this challenging situation,” Cranley said.
Here's how some local congregations are responding to the virus:
Islamic Center of Cincinnati
- Both Jummah prayers are canceled on Friday, March 13.
- "Shaikh Hossam will be live-streaming a Khutba, but it is not permitted to pray behind him via the livestream. As it does not count as a Jumma prayer, the usual 4 Rakat of Dhuhr must be made," ICGC posted on Facebook.
- Click here to read the full statement.
Archdiocese of Cincinnati
Catholics in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati are dispensed from their Sunday Mass obligation through the weekend of March 28-29.
Masses may be celebrated as currently scheduled with the following restrictions:
- No holding hands during the Our Father
- Suspension of exchange of a sign of peace
- No reception of Holy Communion from the chalice
- No reception of Holy Communion on the tongue
- Holy water fonts in the church should be drained.
- Unconsecrated bread and wine for Mass should be kept out of public areas.
- All events, programs and services are canceled until March 28th (with the exception of private lifecycle ceremonies and voting on March 17th.)
- Friday night services can be accessed through streaming video.
New Prospect Baptist Church
- Services are on for Sunday, March 15, but Pastor Damon Lynch III encouraged members to access services via the church’s live stream.
- “We encourage anyone with health issues to stay home and worship with us via Facebook Live @Damon Lynch. The church will be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized this Saturday prior to services on Sunday,” the church posted on Facebook.
- Services are canceled until further notice.
- All buildings are closed to the public.
- Regular services will be available online via Crossroads’ livestream.
Click here to see a full list of schools that have adjusted their schedules amid the coronavirus outbreak.
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.
- SDH 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.