Watch CBS News

Local Churches Change Practices For Mass As Precautions Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

BENSENVILLE, Ill. (CBS) -- CBS 2 is pressing for updates on the latest case of coronavirus in Illinois.

A third person in the stateis believed to have contracted the virus, and thousands have been taking precautions. CBS 2's Steven Graves saw it firsthand Sunday at churches across the area.

Roughly 120 parishes in the Diocese of Joliet are under a precautionary directive indefinitely. Many parishioners are following suit.


At St. Charles Borromeo Church in Bensenville, there is a message on the door reading: "Due to the ongoing flu season, no chalice will be offered for the foreseeable future. In addition, the optional sign of peace will be omitted at all masses. After making this decision, Bishop (Richard) Pates has requested the same for all parties in the diocese."

Thus, during Lent, nobody will be drinking communion wine, nor shaking hands during the sign of peace.

"We led the mass today with a formal announcement before the mass even began, which is extraordinary for us," said the Rev. Joshua Miller. "I haven't done it in five years."

Fr. Miller now has priests and parishioners use hand sanitizer. And for roughly 1,000 families at St. Charles Borromeo and thousands more under the Diocese of Joliet, everyone who is sick is encouraged to avoid mass.

"I think everybody understands the need to err on the side of caution - even on a normal flu season, but with the threat of coronavirus in particular," Fr. Miller said.

Miller said the directive for the diocese from Bishop Pates came on Friday.

And with a new third case of coronavirus for the Chicago area now confirmed in suburban Cook County, many parishioners understand the precautions.

Rosanne Brucci, a member of Visitation Parish, said she raised both palms for the offering of peace.

"'No offense, peace be with you,' and we continued mass," she said.

The Archdiocese of Chicago has yet to implement a suspension in its parishes, a similar move during the H1N1 flu in 2009. But leaders there still encourage hand-washing, and staying at home if you feel feverish.

Meanwhile, the new local coronavirus case was confirmed Saturday by the Illinois and Cook County departments of public health.

The patient is hospitalized in isolation at an undisclosed location, and CDC protocols have been implemented. The patient is from Cook County, officials said.

On Sunday, Graves sent emails and follow-up emails to health officials for answers on how the person contracted the virus. He also asked if and where anyone else could have been exposed.

Graves had yet to hear back as of late Sunday afternoon, as the officials claimed they were working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to confirm more details.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.