Diocese of Worcester Issues Guidelines to Combat Flu Season

(NECN: Kristen Carosa) - St. Paul's Cathedral celebrated Mass differently on Friday.

The Diocese of Worcester has issued guidelines to combat flu season.

Parishioner Bob George said he welcomes the precautions.

“I think it’s great -- instead of handshaking, we can extend the feeling with a wave, with a smile,” George said. “There are so many other ways to communicate peace to each other.”

In addition to the sign of peace, parishioners will not be receiving wine during communion.

Ray Delisle of the Diocese said these guidelines will reduce the risk of transmitting the flu within the congregation.

“We haven't had to issue these guidelines, such as suspending the sign of peace and suspending the use of the cup, for the past several years because the flu season has been much milder,” Delisle said.

The Worcester Division of Public Health said this is one of the most severe seasons they have seen. Director Derek Brindisi said there are now 380 confirmed cases and eight deaths associated with the flu.

He said people need to take responsibility for their own health or numbers will continue to climb.

“Get vaccinated now,” Brindisi said. “Also, if people get the flu, stay home. Don't go to work. If your kids are sick, do not send them to school. If people leave their home while they are sick, they will ultimately infect others.”

Delisle said the same applies to church.

“If people are sick, there is no obligation to Sunday Mass,” he said. “People should stay home and get better.”

Back at St. Paul's Cathedral, George said he will follow all of the church's guidelines. He said he is taking all precautions when it comes to the flu -- including getting his shot.

“I understand the flu shot has a very similar strain as the flu bug, so I feel fairly confident,” he said.

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