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East TN Catholics won't drink wine during communion or shake hands amid coronavirus fears

Bishop Stika notified the Knoxville Diocese of these restrictions this week, which are similar to those taken during flu season

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Catholic churches in East Tennessee will only receive communion through the consecrated bread, instead of both bread and wine.

Bishop Richard F. Stika issued that directive to all members of the Diocese of Knoxville on Thursday, the same day that Gov. Bill Lee announced the state had its first case of the COVID-19 strain of the coronavirus in Middle Tennessee.

"The directive includes suspending the distribution of the consecrated wine, knowing that one receives the fullness of Communion of Jesus Christ from the consecrated host," according to a statement from the diocese.

They will stop shaking hands in greeting during the service.

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"Bishop Stika has also suspended the offering of a physical sign of peace, inviting parishioners to instead bow one's head as they offer peace to those around them," the statement said.

The directions went into effect on March 3.

Thes restrictions are similar to those taken during the flu season. 

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