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Parishes in communities with high COVID counts told to follow protocols


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BRAINTREE – In light of new information about the incidence of COVID-19 cases in different Massachusetts cities and towns, the archdiocese has specified requirements that parishes in communities with high case rates must follow in order to avoid spreading the virus.
On Aug. 11, Governor Charlie Baker’s administration released a color-coded map and information that will be updated on a weekly basis to track the rate of COVID-19 cases in communities. An average of eight or more new cases per 100,000 people daily is considered high.
At the time of the map’s initial publication, four cities, all in the Archdiocese of Boston, had been singled out as having high incidence rates: Chelsea, Everett, Lynn, and Revere. On Aug. 12 the list was updated to include Hull, Lawrence, Salem and Saugus.
An Aug. 11 email from vicar general Bishop Peter Uglietto outlined requirements that parishes in communities with high case counts must follow.
Registration for Masses is required, and lists of people who enter the church—whether for Masses, funerals, baptisms, or other events—should be kept for at least two weeks to allow contact tracing.
The temperature of each person attending an indoor Mass must be taken using infra-red thermometers issued by the archdiocese or equivalent devices. These “should be done as discreetly as possible” in a location where the people and thermometers are not warmed by sunlight.
A temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38.0 degrees Celsius) or greater is considered a fever. If someone registers a temperature that high, they should be respectfully informed that they have a fever and that they should contact their physician. They are to be directed to a secondary exit to avoid crossing paths with others waiting to be checked.
Temperature checks and lists should not be taken for confessions, but current rules for confessions “need to be applied strongly.” These include wearing masks and maintaining at least six feet of space between the confessor and the penitent.

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