• Seven new coronavirus cases in New York have been linked to two separate Catholic churches in Queens, New York
  • One of the COVID-19 patients handed out Holy Communion late February
  • Churches across the U.S. have called on the suspension of in-person services amid the coronavirus outbreak

Two Catholic churches in Queens, New York, have been linked to seven new coronavirus cases in the state, with one of the patients confirmed to have passed out Holy Communion on Ash Wednesday.

According to CBS affiliate WCBS-TV, the Eucharistic minister from Woodside’s Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church tested positive of the novel coronavirus. Ash Wednesday was held on February 26.

Six of the new cases in New York were linked to the St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church in East Elmhurst, as confirmed by the Diocese of Brooklyn on Tuesday night.

The six churchgoers who contracted the COVID-19 strain were said to have been present in three community gatherings over the past weeks, but the extent of exposure among other attendees has yet to be revealed.

In the meantime, the two churches have been shut down as experts carry out sanitization and deep-cleaning measures to prevent further spreading of the virus.

The Diocese has called on people who may have attended gatherings where the infected patients have been in to call their doctors immediately if they develop any symptoms or if they start feeling ill.

The news came after multiple religious sects across the United States started canceling masses to prevent spreading among churchgoers.

As early as last week, churches suspended mass services and encouraged church members to watch their livestreaming services online, especially those with existing websites where members who are sick usually run to when they cannot attend services in person.

According to USA Today, some churches have also started opening offering and tithing options for church members online. Group meetings for church leaders are also being hosted through video chatting apps or programs.

Social media has also helped religious people retain their faith as many churches across the country have been livestreaming sermons on Facebook, while others post recorded sermons.

In Michigan, bishops from different church groups have urged congregations to suspend all worship services for the entire month of March as a precautionary measure against the COVID-19 crisis.

Some of the church groups that called for the cancelation of in-person services include the Presbyterian Church U.S., The Episcopal Church, Catholic Dioceses and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

The United States has recorded at least 6,496 confirmed COVID-19 cases and at least 114 deaths from the fast-spreading virus.