Several East Tennessee schools joined a growing list of closures that has kept more than 100,000 kids out of the classroom this week due to the flu. Additionally, the state of Tennessee has reported eight pediatric flu deaths this season. Since February is typically the peak of the flu season, Bishop Stika is issuing a directive today suspending the distribution of Communion under both species and the exchange of handshakes during the sign of peace in response to the outbreak of influenza in the state.
Starting February 1, 2020, and continuing until March 1, 2020, priests throughout the diocese will make announcements requesting that any parishioner exhibiting cold or flu symptoms skip Mass and stay home, and that they are released from their obligation to go to Mass on Sunday. In addition to prohibiting the distribution of the Precious Blood, extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist are required to take extra sanitary measures (i.e. -use sanitizing gel, etc.).