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As Coronavirus Spreads, Local Faith Leaders Take Precautions

Priest pours wine into a chalice
The Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg is suspending communal distribution of holy wine.

As the spread of coronavirus worsens, faith leaders across Florida are taking steps to keep followers safe and that includes making changes to worship services.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg – which has 74 parishes in the region — has issued new directives in response to the virus.

Until further notice, there will be no more holy wine from a common cup during communion and all holy water in churches is being emptied.  Physical contact will be avoided too, including at the Sign of Peace. Parishioners are being asked to stay home from Mass and church activities if they are feeling sick.

On any given Sunday, about 13,000 people worship in Episcopal churches in the region. The Diocese of Southwest Florida is also telling parishioners to avoid physical contact during services.

On Thursday,  Reverend Michael Curry, the Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop issued a statement supporting bishops who make decisions to suspend the common cup because of the public health emergency. 

The diocese which includes Tampa, St. Pete and Sarasota has also posted links to Covid-19 resources on its website.

The Jewish Federation of Sarasota -Manatee says synagogues are following the guidelines of the CDC and monitoring news from WHO as well as local, state and federal governments. Several temples are offering live streaming of their Shabbat services.

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