"YOU have to do your part.”
Last Jan. 12, CNN correspondent Sara Sidner broke down after covering the 10th hospital in Southern California treating patients stricken with coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
Reporting on the program, “New Day,” Sidner apologized but continued to deliver the message of families that lost members: “Do whatever you can to keep (Covid-19) from killing your family members and your neighbors and your friends and your teacher and doctors and firefighters. All of these people are here to help you but you have to do your part.”
Emphasizing each person’s stake is a message needing constant reinforcement. Sars-CoV-2, the virus causing Covid-19, requires only one infected person to spread. The term “superspreader” applies to both events and persons infecting numerous persons who carry the virus to the communities they come into contact.
The Jan. 11 decision of the Augustinian priests not to hold physical novena masses at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño starting on Jan. 12 until the Jan. 17 fiesta of the Sto. Niño may have dismayed many devotees of the Cebu’s beloved patron.
The Augustinian order should be commended for initiating a move that considers the “integral salvation” of Cebu, from the standpoint of public health and spiritual well-being, as mentioned in their official statement.
The Basilica remains open for parishioners to pay a quick visit to the icon. Candle-lighting was suspended too.
On Jan. 12, a presider of one of the Basilica novena masses related an incident when a devotee threw money at church volunteers after she was prevented from lighting candles.
Rituals, such as rubbing religious statues and lighting candles, are discouraged to lower the risk of spreading Covid-19. Coronaviruses “naturally die” on surfaces and objects “within hours to days,” according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Incivility should be the last response for priests and volunteers who are balancing public health and religious fervor in a pandemic.
Prior to Jan. 12, the physical masses held at the Pilgrim Center of the Basilica showed that physical distancing and the wearing of face masks and shields were observed among participants.
Livestreaming of all the masses was carried out through the Basilica’s social media sites, as well as through several media partners. The online portal is recommended by many public health advocates and frontline workers aiming at containing the spread of Covid-19.
Participation in masses and other church events accounted for few of the daily cases of Covid-19 in Cebu City. Registering double-digit levels since Dec. 29, the positive cases are caused by many factors, according to the Department of Health (DOH) and the Emergency Operations Center (EOC).
Jerra Mae J. Librea and Kate F. Denolang reported on Jan. 11 in SunStar Cebu that after tracing contacts, the authorities determined that only four of the cases were infected after hearing mass.
The bulk of persons contracting Covid-19 took part in private gatherings, joined mall sales, dined out, visited beaches, and moved around more during the holidays.
With Cebu under modified general community quarantine status until the end of January, meaning fewer institutional impediments to mobility, the message of doing one’s part not to be infected and infect others should be uppermost in the exercise of civility.