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How religious leaders are coping with Coronavirus threats in their communities

From Catholic Churches to mosques, synagogues and other houses of worship-there’s no question the Coronavirus is top of mind for religious leaders and their congregations.
Posted at 9:19 PM, Mar 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-09 21:38:31-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- From Catholic Churches to mosques, synagogues and other houses of worship-there’s no question the Coronavirus is top of mind for religious leaders and their congregations.

Monday, we found out how some religious leaders across the metro area are keeping parishioners in the loop and giving advice on how to stay healthy.

It’s quiet prayer time at the Islamic Center of Virginia.

A day that hasn’t brought a huge rush of people, but Imam Ammar Amonette says in six weeks when Ramadan starts, they will see a steady stream of hundreds each day.

in a recent sermon, he addressed concerns about Coronavirus.

“The prophet Muhammad in our religion taught us about quarantine and not going in public and exposing people to communicable diseases if you are suffering. So, that's actually part of our religious teaching,” the Imam said.

Imam Amonette says they're advising members, adult and children with cold or flu symptoms to stay home.

Similar messages were heard at Wallace Simms' St. Paul's Baptist Church in Henrico.

He and other members received an email from the pastor implementing precautionary measures like changing how communion is conducted, and how money is collected.

“The letter was designed to educate and inform. When I received it, I was appreciative,” Simms added.

“We are doing a walk around offering. The deacon will be holding the bucket and the congregants are dropping the offering into the bucket,” Simms explained.

The Catholic Diocese has also prepared guidance for it's pastors.

This memo posted on their website explains that the Diocese has not placed restrictions on the use of the chalice for Holy Communion or the exchange of the Sign of Peace for Mass.

The memo goes on to say no one is obligated to receive the chalice or shake hands.

Many congregations are highlighting the importance of social distancing.

“Sometimes we have to cut back on some of that touching. The whole purpose is to show we care about each other. The way we do that is not exposing them to germs, bacteria and viruses,” Amonette added.

One last thing. leaders say everyone can do to alleviate anxiety, is just to practice common courtesy.

That includes being mindful to cover your cough or your sneeze, wash your hands often and just respect people’s personal space.