A priest in Arizona has tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting a bishop to enter quarantine and get tested for the virus, the Diocese of Phoenix announced in a statement Saturday.
Parishioners have also been advised to monitor their health following the positive test of Father Rafael Umaña of Saints Simon and Jude Cathedral in Phoenix. His condition has “steadily improved” and he is taking precautions in the rectory to protect the safety of others.
“If you attended the 6 p.m. Mass the past two Sundays or had close contact with Fr. Rafael in the past two weeks, you should monitor your health in the coming days, and you may want to consider being tested for COVID-19, especially if you or someone in your household is particularly vulnerable due to age or underlying health conditions,” said Fr. John Lankeit, rector of the cathedral, in a letter to parishioners.
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Lankeit and Bishop Thomas Olmsted — who currently oversees the Phoenix cathedral — are now self-isolating as they await their test results. Daily Masses and confessions have been canceled from Monday until Wednesday. Only last Sunday’s 9 a.m. televised Mass was celebrated at the Roman Catholic church.
Last week, Olmstead had talked about the importance of doing the “little things,” to limit the spread of the coronavirus. That included following the guidelines by state health officials and asking churchgoers at Mass to “please wear a face mask in a spirit of care for your fellow parishioners.”
The cathedral has also required staff and parishioners to wear the coverings during Masses, in addition to maintaining social distancing, according to Glendale’s KTAR-FM.
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The church reportedly closed during Gov. Doug Ducey’s stay-at-home order, according to AZ Central. It reopened in mid-May and Mass seating was restricted to 150 people.
“Thank you for your patience and understanding during this time. We will send additional updates as information becomes available,” the letter added.
Maricopa County — where Phoenix is located — has reported at least 44,962 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 746 deaths from the virus, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. At least 2,588 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Sunday and 417,546 tests have been administered since the start of the pandemic.
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Arizona has seen more than 73,920 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and at least 1,594 deaths from the virus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
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