3/26 Coronavirus Tracker: Sisters respond, doctors in Spain and Italy struggle

This article appears in the Coronavirus Tracker feature series. View the full series.

Welcome to NCR's Coronavirus Tracker, where you can find the latest news about the coronavirus pandemic as it relates to the Catholic Church and other institutions. We hope you find it useful in navigating these complex times and welcome your suggestions for how we might improve it. We're currently updating the Tracker twice a day, early in the morning and late in the afternoon. To receive the Coronavirus Tracker by email each weekday afternoon, sign up here. The Tracker was last updated at 4:35 pm EDT.

Coronavirus Kindness

Mary Freeman learned her business associate, 300-plus miles away, was running dangerously low on toilet paper. So what did she do? Connect the associate to her sister-in-law, of course, who lived in a nearby town and personally delivered plenty of extra rolls to the associate.

Coronavirus: How Religious Communities Are Worshiping Together While Apart

WBUR, March 26

WBUR discusses how faith communities across America are worshiping together during the coronavirus outbreak. 

Brazil's president exempts churches from lockdown

The Mercury News, March 26

His order contradicts measures taken by state governors and city mayors

How you can keep thousands of peple from getting coronavirus, in one GIF

Vox, March 26

"It's not about you, it's about everybody else."

Russia's coronavirus cases rising, but the Orthodox church holds to traditions such as kissing icons

The Washington Post, March 26

Even as places of worship across the globe have closed or switched to online services, some in the Russian Orthodox Church have insisted it will not stop in-person services or try to block traditions such as kissing icons. 

Ohio Megachurch Keeps Holding Mass Gatherings, Even As Coronavirus Spreads

HuffPost, March 26

While most of Ohio spent the last week lying low under Gov. Mike DeWine's "stay at home" order to stem the coronavirus outbreak, the Solid Rock megachurch just north of Cincinnati took the opposite approach. 

Nearly 3 dozen who attended Arkansas church event test positive for coronavirus

NBC News, March 26

34 people who attended the event in early March had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Older Catholics reflect on pandemic's effect on faith life, how they cope

Catholic News Service, March 26

Early in the coronavirus pandemic, even before Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland canceled public Masses, the advice came that Catholics 60 and older should stay away from liturgies.

Reports: Official living in same residence as pope is positive for COVID-19

Catholic News Service, March 26

A 58-year-old Italian monsignor, who works in the Vatican Secretariat of State and lives in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where Pope Francis lives, has tested positive for COVID-19 and has been hospitalized, an Italian newspaper reported March 25.

Virus infections near 500,000 as health systems buckle

The Associated Press, March 26

The number of coronavirus infections closed in on a half-million worldwide March 26, with both Italy and the U.S. on track to surpass China, and a record-shattering 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in a single week in a stark demonstration of the damage to the world's biggest economy.

Coronavirus indulgences evoke Francis' 'ridiculously-pardoning' church

Joshua J. McElwee (NCR), March 26

Theologians say the Vatican's move shows a seemingly unprecedented level of pastoral care for those who suffer from the virus — especially those who may die in isolation without being able to receive final rites.

Catholic universities, and a high school, donate medical supplies to hospitals

Catholic News Service, March 26

It was a scene of hope and humanity as boxes and boxes of medical equipment at St. John's University were packed up and driven over to New York-Presbyterian Queens hospital.

My father is 82 and dedicated to serving the church; here's what the church can do for him now

Jocelyn A. Sideco (NCR), March 26

A letter to our church leaders: My father needs your protection and your guidance. ...

Can you call him?

'Give me liberty, or give me (grandma's) death!'

Michael Sean Winters (NCR), March 26 

Growing up Catholic, attending a small country church in the late '60s and early '70s, every Easter Sunday we sang a saccharine hymn called, "Alleluia! Alleluia! Let the Holy Anthem Rise." (Listen to it at your own risk: It creates a dreadful ear worm.) This year, President Donald Trump wants us all back in our places on Easter Sunday, but singing "let the holy market rise."

Sisters in health care, advocacy and immigration respond to expanding needs of coronavirus situation

Dan Stockman (GSR), March 26 

COVID-19, the infection caused by the new coronavirus sweeping the planet, can be invisible, insidious and deadly, but Catholic women religious and the organizations they created or run are at the forefront of efforts to stop it.

An Act of Service: There is Nothing Un-Christian about Quarantines

Commonweal, March 25 

Today’s quarantine restrictions complement centuries of Christian response to epidemics. The church has always urged the faithful to take every sensible precaution in defense of human life, while continuing to serve God and neighbor.

US Christian leaders criticize Trump's Easter coronavirus deadline

The Guardian, March 25 

US Christian leaders have criticized Donald Trump’s Easter coronavirus deadline – by which he wants to see much of the country reopened and churches full. One described it as the "height of hypocrisy."

We face a war against coronavirus and must mobilize accordingly

Financial Times, March 25 

From a former president of the European Central Bank: The coronavirus pandemic is a human tragedy of potentially biblical proportions. Many today are living in fear of their lives or mourning their loved ones. The actions being taken by governments to prevent our health systems from being overwhelmed are brave and necessary. They must be supported. 

Cities after coronavirus: how Covid-19 could radically alter urban life

The Guardian, March 26 

As the world continues to fight the rapid spread of coronavirus, confining many people to their homes and radically altering the way we move through, work in and think about our cities, some are wondering which of these adjustments will endure beyond the end of the pandemic, and what life might look like on the other side.

A deluge of death in northern Italy

Reuters, March 25 

Lombardy, the wealthiest and most populous region in Italy, reported its first case of coronavirus on Feb. 21 a short distance from Milan — Italy’s financial capital. A month later, Lombardy had become the single deadliest coronavirus hotspot on the planet. On March 22, the number of deaths there reached 3,456, eclipsing the number of people who have died from the virus in Hubei - the Chinese province where the virus first emerged at the end of last year.

‘A biological bomb’: Soccer match in Italy linked to epicenter of deadly outbreak

The Washington Post, March 25 

A soccer match last month that sparked euphoria in Bergamo has taken on a much darker relevance in the epicenter of Italy’s deadliest covid-19 outbreak.

A Deluged System Leaves Some Elderly to Die, Rocking Spain’s Self-Image

The New York Times, March 25 

Even amid the coronavirus crisis, the tragedy unfolding in Spain’s nursing homes has shocked a nation that takes pride in its reverence for older people and in its health care system.

How coronavirus took just weeks to overwhelm Spain

The Guardian, March 25 

On Saturday 7 March, 24 hours before hundreds of thousands of people rallied across Spain to mark International Women’s Day, and 9,000 faithful Vox supporters arrived in Madrid for a far-right jamboree, authorities in the northern region of La Rioja were taking some difficult decisions.

That weekend, not quite three weeks ago, Spain had confirmed just 430 coronavirus cases. Eighteen days later, Spain has confirmed 47,610 cases, and, with a death toll of 3,434, has logged more fatalities than China.

NYC morgues near capacity, DHS briefing warns

Politico, March 25 

The Department of Homeland Security has been briefed that New York City’s morgues are nearing capacity, according to a department official and a second person familiar with the situation.

13 Deaths in a Day: An ‘Apocalyptic’ Coronavirus Surge at an N.Y.C. Hospital

The New York Times, March 25 

In several hours on Tuesday, Dr. Ashley Bray performed chest compressions at Elmhurst Hospital Center on a woman in her 80s, a man in his 60s and a 38-year-old who reminded the doctor of her fiancé. All had tested positive for the coronavirus and had gone into cardiac arrest. All eventually died.

Coronavirus pummels medics in Spain and Italy: ‘We are collapsing’

Associated Press, March 25 

The coronavirus is waging a war of attrition against healthcare workers throughout the world, but nowhere is it winning more battles at the moment than in Italy and in Spain, where protective equipment and tests have been in severely short supply for weeks.

As Latin America Shuts Down to Fight Virus, Brazil and Mexico Are Holdouts

The New York Times, March 25 

Most leaders in Latin America reacted to the arrival of the coronavirus in the region with speed and severity: Borders were shut. Flights were halted. Soldiers roamed deserted streets enforcing quarantines, and medical professionals braced for an onslaught of patients by building field hospitals.

But the presidents of Brazil and Mexico, who govern more than half of Latin America’s population — Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil and, to a lesser degree, his Mexican counterpart, Andrés Manuel López Obrador — have remained strikingly dismissive.

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