Officials Encourage Believers To Mark “Holy Days” Virtually


ROCHESTER, NY (WXXI) – Health officials are urging people to keep up with the social distancing rules and stay home, despite the religious holidays observed this time of year.

With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Ontario County Public Health Director Mary Beer said this is a time when people should consider the impact their actions could have on others.

Pope Francis, left, delivers his message during a Mass for Holy Thursday, inside St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, Thursday, April 9, 2020. Francis celebrated the Holy Week Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, which was largely empty of faithful because of restrictions aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (Alessandro Di Meo/Pool Photo via AP)

She said it’s time to reschedule family celebrations.

“You can do that later,” she said. “There will be a time when this is over, and we will be able to have joy and gatherings again.  But right now, it’s just so imperative that it’s important to stay home and save lives.”

Beer said if you’re interacting with others, you or they could be shedding the virus even if no one is showing any symptoms.

She encouraged people to use technology like social media to remain connected at this time.

Livingston County Administrator Ian Coyle said even with reports of fewer hospitalizations, this is not the time for people to let their guard down.

“Upstate could have a false sense of security that this is waning – ‘I can relax a little bit, I can maybe not practice what I’ve been doing as far as social distancing, travel, non-essential stuff.’ That is actually the exact opposite of what needs to happen,” he said.

Coyle said the apex for the number of COVID-19 cases is still a few weeks out in the Finger Lakes region, so now is the time to be extra vigilant.

He also pointed out that social distancing requirements and the ban on gatherings of any size are not just recommendations — they are the rules.