New York City, where I live, has really been devastated by the flu outbreak. Lots of people out sick at work, lots of coughing and sneezing on the subway, emergency rooms flooded by flu victims. Not a pretty sight.
But in Boston, there is one very good consequence of the flu:
Because of the flu outbreak and the declaration of a health emergency in Boston, the Archdiocese of Boston Wednesday afternoon instructed priests that they can suspend the distribution of wine [uh, Precious Blood] during Communion from a common chalice out of “pastoral caution and prudence.”
Auxiliary Bishop Robert P. Deeley also notified priests that may encourage worshipers to exchange the “Sign of Peace” by bowing to nearby parishioners instead of shaking hands. [No running around the church to shake everyone's hand]
Archdiocese spokesman Terrence Donilon said in an e-mail that Communion hosts will continue to be given because “it is central to the celebration’ of Mass. But priests will “use extra caution if people receive (the host) on the tongue and are to use extra caution in washing their hands before and after Mass.” [If people kneel, it is much less likely that the priest will touch the communicant's mouth]