A Texas Catholic parish is coping with the news that one of its parishioners has tested positive for the coronavirus:
Dozens attended Mass at St. Cecilia Catholic Church on Sunday after news that one of the Houston area individuals that tested positive for the virus.
“There’s no way in heck I will not come to Mass to receive my Lord, that’s the most important thing to me,” said parishioner Lorena Rodel.
The church informed the public Friday that the individual attended 5:30 pm Ash Wednesday Mass on February 26.
Houston Health officials said anyone sitting within six feet of the individual may have been exposed and are asked to call Houston Health at 713-439-6000. They are requesting Parishioners to monitor for symptoms until March 11.
The church is taking precautions of their own.
“The Diocese of Galveston Houston has put out guidance,“ said parishioner Bob Stephan. “We discontinued using the vessel for the body of Christ, the blood of Christ, so we’ve changed some things.”
From the parish’s Facebook page:
This afternoon, parish and school principals met with members of the Harris County Health Department and the Archdiocese of Galveston Houston. A very thorough discussion took place with health department epidemiologists about the parishioner who attended Mass at 5:30 p. It is believed that the individual probably sat on the bench along the back wall of the church, just to the left of the baptismal pile, in front of the altar.
Through Harris County Health Department research, it was confirmed that the person was asymptomatic at the time of his attendance at Mass on February 26 After the review of our church and conversations with the person, the Harris County Health Department has determined that there is a very low risk of transmission from COVID-19 to most members of our community.
Determination is based on the following facts:
• COVID-19 is transmitted only through direct contact: large drops from person to person.
• ➤ COVID-19 is believed to live on surfaces for a prolonged period of time.
• The CDC defines a low risk of exposure to people who have had short interaction (1-2 minutes) with confirmed people who have COVID-19. This would include ashes distribution for Ash Wednesday and Holy Communion in the hand.
• Church has been thoroughly cleaned several times since the individual was here for mass.
• At this time, the county has no evidence of COVID-19 ‘community spread’: People who are positive with COVID-19 are being carefully monitored and everyone contracting their symptoms through international travel.
Harris County Health Department does not recommend cancellation of Masses, school or any other program or events scheduled on campus. The health department’s suggestion is to continue non-pharmaceutical interventions such as washing your hands, staying home if you feel sick and keeping sick children at home.
Due to our close communication with the County Health Department and ongoing thorough research, any additional information on this situation will come directly from the parish and school. Please do not rely on other published media stories and / or speculation or guesses. Rest assured that the health, safety and well-being of all members of our community are most important for church and school leadership.
The Harris County Health Department thanked the leaders of the Catholic Church and St. Cecilia School and their parishioners for their commitment and support during this investigation.