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Congregations Battle The Flu Season

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We are in the heart of the flu season. Most are doing whatever they can to make sure they don’t get it, or spread it, and that includes churches. It may be the last place people think of when it comes to where the flu can spread, but churches could be an easy place to catch a virus. So pastors at St. Michael’s Parish on South Marion Road are doing everything they can to keep their congregation as healthy as possible.

It’s not unusual for St. Michael’s Parish in Sioux Falls to have a packed crowd at 9:30 on a Sunday morning. But when it comes to the flu season, attending mass is an easy way to catch and spread the flu.
“We just want to be precautionary so we don’t spread the germs to those in high risk situations,” said Father Charles Cimple.

Father Cimple said the congregation is working hard to make sure those in high-risk situations like the young and elderly don’t get sick. And they are doing so in many different ways.

“Anybody that is distributing communion, or doing things, we do have the antiseptic gel available,” said Cimple.

One of the biggest changes though is something Father Cimple isn’t incorporating into his sermons. For the second year in a row, he’s no longer doing the sign of peace.

 “Shaking hands, or doing something during the sign of peace that would give any type of indication of germs being spread,” said Cimple.

Dick Molseed has been a member of St. Michael’s Parish for 18 years. He said not doing the sign of peace during the flu season is a small step to combat a big problem.

"Its acknowledging the reality and acknowledging that there are little things we can do. And its kind of the Christian thing to do- to make sure you don't spread germs,” said Dick Molseed, a member of the congregation.

Jason Cox agrees with Molseed saying it’s nice that the church is doing what it can to keep everyone safe. But he said sometimes that’s not even enough.

"You can be as healthy as you can, and wash your hands and take all sorts of precautions. But if you going to get it, your going to get it, and you just have to deal with it,” said Jason Cox, a member of the congregation.

Father Cimple also said he reminds congregations members to simply not come to mass if they aren’t feeling well. He said that is the best way to make sure you don’t spread the flu.

According to the South Dakota Health Department, there have been 582 confirmed cases of influenza. So far 11 of those were fatal.  

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