Houston Catholic church closes after 5 leaders get COVID-19

Updated

12:09 pm CDT, Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Visitors to the River Walk pass a restaurant that has reopened in San Antonio, Monday, May 18, 2020. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that bars and bowling alleys are on the list of business that can reopen at 25 percent beginning Friday and restaurants can increase to 50 percent capacity as the state continues to go through phases to reopen the state after closing many businesses to battle the spread of the coronavirus. less
Visitors to the River Walk pass a restaurant that has reopened in San Antonio, Monday, May 18, 2020. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that bars and bowling alleys are on the list of business that can … more

Photo: Eric Gay, AP

Visitors to the River Walk pass a restaurant that has reopened in San Antonio, Monday, May 18, 2020. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that bars and bowling alleys are on the list of business that can reopen at 25 percent beginning Friday and restaurants can increase to 50 percent capacity as the state continues to go through phases to reopen the state after closing many businesses to battle the spread of the coronavirus. less
Visitors to the River Walk pass a restaurant that has reopened in San Antonio, Monday, May 18, 2020. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that bars and bowling alleys are on the list of business that can … more

Photo: Eric Gay, AP

Houston Catholic church closes after 5 leaders get COVID-19

HOUSTON (AP) — A Catholic church in Houston has closed its doors after five of its leaders tested positive for COVID-19, including two priests who had helped celebrate public masses which had resumed earlier this month.

The closure and positive tests come after a priest from Holy Ghost parish, 79-year-old Donnell Kirchner, died last week. He was diagnosed with pneumonia, but health officials are determining whether he might have contracted the virus before he died May 13.

Kirchner went to an urgent care clinic and later to a hospital emergency room. But after being released, he went back to the home he shared with members of his religious order, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston said Monday in a statement.

Masses at the church had resumed May 2 as part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s plan to reopen the state in phases from coronavirus restrictions. Sunday masses had never exceeded 179 people, or about 20% of the church’s seating capacity, the diocese said.

The diocese previously said churches would keep attendance at 25% capacity, have people wear masks and enforce social distancing. Church personnel would also sanitize commonly used surfaces such as pews between services.

Members of Kirchner’s religious order are asymptomatic but are being quarantined. The diocese encouraged anyone who attended masses at Holy Ghost to get tested as a precaution.


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