I went to a mini Germanfest with friends Saturday evening at the Knights of Columbus hall on Reed Road. Good food and good music, but there were a couple of hundred people (at least) in a small space, and I started getting phobic about the possibility of catching flu there. Then I spend a lot of Sunday beating myself up for being so irrational. I console myself now with the fact that I'm not the only one:
After weeks of listening to parishioners sniffle in the pews, and worrying about the spread of the pandemic H1N1 influenza virus, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend decided its flock needed to make some sacrifices this flu season.
So this week, the priests will be locking up their Communion chalices and, as a precaution against the spread of germs, temporarily stopping the practice of offering wine during the sacrament.
[. . .]
As flu season gets underway and fears mount over reports of rising deaths from H1N1, commonly known as swine flu, many congregations across the country are taking precautions by adjusting their rituals.
[. . .]
Stanford University's Memorial Church is asking congregants to dip the Communion bread into the wine, and Grace Episcopal Cathedral in Topeka, Kan., has taken a more unusual step: wiping its chalices with vodka-soaked gauze after each parishioner takes a sip.
[. . .]
Other congregations have different solutions.
Members of the United Church of Christ in Garden City, N.Y., have been asked to raise their hands -- instead of shaking others' -- when greeting congregants during the service. And in Muncie, Ind., volunteers at Union Chapel Ministries are pulling on protective gloves each Sunday before they pick up the collection plates.
What's next, wearing a HAZMAT suit to mass? Won't God be offended that people think they've so vulnerable in his house?
In other flu-avoiding news, some hospitals are restricting patient visitation, cruise lines are screening potential passengers for symptoms, the NBA has hired an infectious-disease expert and schools are disinfecting buildings. Sensible precautions are always warranted with flu, and H1N1 is still largely an unknown when it comes to whom it will hit and how deadly it will end up being, but we're getting a little bit into hysteria territory now.
And, no, you cannot have any of my hand sanitizers. I've barely got enough for my home, office and car, and the few spares I have are strictly for backup. And just because I use them every few minutes, that does not mean I am obsessed. Damn, I bet there are germs all over this keyboard.