Minnesota religious organizations reacted Friday to news of the state’s first case of the novel coronavirus with caution and even a cancellation.
The state reported its first case of COVID-19, a respiratory illness caused by the virus that emerged in China. The patient is an older Ramsey County resident who was on a cruise with a known case. The person sought care Thursday after developing respiratory symptoms on Feb. 25.
The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis urged parishioners to pray for the Minnesotan and take precautions to slow down the virus’ spread. Among Archbishop Bernard Hebda’s recommendations: Stay home if you feel sick, suspend the sign of peace and communion from the chalice, sanitize your hands before receiving the eucharist and refrain from holding hands during the “Our Father” part of the service.
“You are relieved of your Sunday obligation if you are ill or are caring for someone who is sick,” Hebda said. The Archdiocese has more than 180 parishes in the 12-county metro area. Most parishes have taken precautions to prevent the virus from spreading, he added.
A global religious organization based in Chanhassen also weighed in on the news. Eckankar canceled its 2020 springtime seminar, which was scheduled for April 10-12 in Minneapolis, in light of the developments.
The group’s leadership team consulted state health officials and monitored updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.
“Health authorities around the world are expressing deep concern about the risks of holding large events in the wake of the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak,” said Patrick Milan, an Eckankar spokesman. “The health and well-being of the community and seminar attendees was Eckankar’s first priority in making this decision.”
The group expects to hold its fall seminar in Minneapolis in October.