NEWARK — The Archdiocese of Newark has made temporary adjustments to its services as a precaution to avoid the spread of novel coronavirus.

Cardinal Joseph Tobin said in a statement the changes were made "in light of the coronavirus, the uncertainty of how widespread and impactful it is and/or could be."

Effective immediately, Tobin suspended the "distribution of the Precious Blood of Christ from the chalice to parishioners" and said that no member is required to receive the Body of Christ on the tongue.

The Catholic faith teaches the bread and wine used for Communion become the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Parishoners normally drink the wine from a shared chalice.

The sign of peace during the service, which is often celebrated with handshakes, hugs and kisses, should be exchanged without physical contact, the archdiocese said.

As of Wednesday, there have been no known cases of the coronavirus in New Jersey — suspected patients who've been tested so far have come up negative for the virus. New York is the first neighboring state with a confirmed case of coronavirus, announced Sunday, March 1.


Tobin also urged those who are sick or have flu-like symptoms to stay home and can make a "spiritual communion" by watching Mass on television.

Members of the clergy were urged to practice good hygiene by washing their hands and using hand sanitizer before masses.

The Dioceses of Camden and Trenton issued similar statements.

Some steps you can take to prevent spread of flu and the common cold will also help prevent the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, according to the New Jersey Department of Health:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water. If not available, use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home while you are sick and avoid contact with others.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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