NH Catholic parishes can resume offering Communion

CONCORD (AP) — Church services are still prohibited, but Roman Catholics in New Hampshire can begin receiving Holy Communion again in parishes that follow certain safety guidelines.

Manchester Bishop Peter Libasci has given priests permission to begin offering Communion this weekend. His instructions specify that pews must be closed off, hand sanitizer must be available at church entrances and masks must be worn except for when receiving Communion.

Aisles must be marked to keep parishioners at least 6 feet apart.

The bishop says he wanted to provide an interim measure while planning for the future resumption of public Masses.

In Connecticut, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford says it’s making plans to start holding public Masses again.

Leaders of the archdiocese, which includes parishes in Hartford, Litchfield and New Haven counties, said Saturday on Facebook they plan to resume public Masses on weekdays first before resuming Sunday masses — “while following public health guidelines.”

Guidance for parishes will become public next week, the archdiocese says.

As of Friday, there were 40,022 coronavirus cases and 3,675 deaths in Connecticut.

New Hampshire numbers

New Hampshire announced four additional COVID-19-related deaths on Saturday, increasing the state’s total to 208. All were people living in Hillsborough County. Three were age 60 or older.

The state’s COVID-19 mortality rate stands at 5.1% among all diagnosed cases. The state lists 2,197 people as having recovered from COVID-19 thus far.

The state announced 77 new positive test results, pushing the total to 4,089. Of the new cases with complete information, three are under age 18. The new cases live in Rockingham County (19), Hillsborough County other than Manchester and Nashua (18), Merrimack (6), and Strafford (4), Belknap (1), Grafton (1), and Sullivan (1) counties, and in Manchester (25) and Nashua (2).

Rockingham has now seen 1,218 cases while Strafford has seen 253. There have been 92 cases in Dover, 58 in Portsmouth, 52 in Rochester and 43 in Seabrook.

Eleven new hospitalized cases were identified for a total of 419 (10%) of 4,089 cases. There are 93 people currently hospitalized due to COVID-19, the state reported.

The state has now tested 59,539 residents, roughly 4.4% of its population. The 4,089 detected cases represents 6.9% of the total tests.

Saturday’s 77 new cases were down from the state’s recent high of 92 on May 16 and from its peak day to date: 164 on May 1. The lower numbers come as the state has increased its testing, lifting its daily average tests to 2,092 as of Saturday.

Maine

The Maine International Film Festival will take place this year at a drive-in theater in Skowhegan instead of the Waterville Opera House and Railroad Square Cinema, to allow viewers to keep their distance.

“It seemed like a really awesome opportunity to deliver the program safely but also in a really cool and unique way,” Mike Perreault, executive director of the festival and the Maine Film Center, told The Morning Sentinel.

The Skowhegan Drive-In Movie Theatre can cater to about 350 cars, owner Don Brown said. The festival will begin July 7.

Maine reported 65 new COVID-19 cases and two additional deaths Saturday. That brings the total number of deaths to 77 and the total number of people who have tested positive to 2,013, the Maine Center for Disease Control said.

Maine’s highest single-day total of cases to date is 78 on May 20. It reported 71 cases Friday, May 22.

Massachusetts

Crowds packed some Boston beaches amid summerlike temperatures Friday as officials warned residents to remain vigilant in the fight against the coronavirus.

Large crowds appeared on Carson Beach and M Street Beach in South Boston ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, even though beaches don’t officially open for swimming and sunbathing until Monday, NBC Boston reported.

If people go to the beach, officials say, they should wear a mask if they can’t be 6 feet from others, but it’s not necessary while swimming. Gatherings must be of 10 or fewer people, and 12 feet should separate groups, state guidelines say.

Massachusetts reported 76 more COVID-19-related deaths on Saturday, bringing its total to 6,304. The Bay State has now seend 91,662 cases with 773 more cases announced Saturday. The state’s cases continue to decline with Saturday’s numbers less than half of the recent daily high of 1,685 on May 14.

Rhode Island

East Providence is going forward with its Memorial Day parade this year, but it will look a little different. Monday’s parade at 10 a.m. will consist only of people in vehicles, and planners are urging participants to stay in their cars throughout.

The motorcade is planning rifle-volley salutes at war memorials across the city, The Providence Journal reported.

Rhode Island reported 18 new coronavirus deaths Saturday, bringing the state’s total to 597. The state also added over 200 new positive cases, for a total of nearly 14,000.

Vermont

The Champlain Valley Fair — Vermont’s largest annual event — has been canceled for the first time in its nearly 100-year history.

The event draws about 120,000 people every year and was supposed to start Aug. 28 in Essex Junction, but it has been scrapped because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This would have been its 99th year.

The state is “just not ready for large, unstructured events with hundreds if not thousands of people coming into one area without control and the ability to physically separate,” Gov. Phil Scott said Friday.

Vermont reported two new coronavirus cases on Saturday, bringing the total to 954. Total number of deaths remained at 54 for the sixth day in a row.

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