4/2 Coronavirus Tracker: Exposing the essential, debating religious liberty exemptions

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 4:55 pm EDT.

Keeping up community: what sisters are doing amid COVID-19 lockdowns

Global Sisters Report, April 2

Weeks into the crisis, the coronavirus poses another challenge: How do sisters keep a sense of community in a time of social distancing, stay-at-home orders and quarantines?


Haddad: Catholic health care committed to 'loving care' of COVID-19 patients

Global Sisters Report, April 2

As the COVID-19 pandemic touches nearly every corner of the globe, "there are many ethical considerations around resource allocation and the delivery of care for critically ill patients," said Mercy Sister Mary Haddad, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association.


Love in lockdown

Thinking Faith, April 1

What does ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ look like in a lockdown scenario?


The Apocalypse as an 'Unveiling': What Religion Teaches Us About the End Times

The New York Times, April 2

For people of many faiths, and even none at all, it can feel lately like the end of the world is near.


He Said Mass Via Live Stream. 8 Days Later, He Fell to the Virus.

The New York Times, April 2

The death of Father Jorge Ortiz-Garay, the first Catholic priest known to have died of the coronavirus in the United States, rattled a community that is unable to congregate and mourn.


Postponement of COP26 doesn't mean fight against climate crisis can be delayed, warns CAFOD

The Catholic Universe, April 2

The Catholic aid agency’s warning comes following the announcement that the Cop26 meeting, which was set to take place at Glasgow’s Scottish Events Campus from 9th to 20th November, has now been postponed to next year, while the venue is being turned into a temporary Covid-19 field hospital.


Is Trump killing his supporters?

Religion News Service, April 2

Has President Donald Trump put the lives of his supporters at risk because of his early downplaying of the coronavirus epidemic?


Asian cardinal says Communist Party to blame for covering up COVID-19

Catholic News Service, April 2

Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, president of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences, called the Chinese Communist Party "morally culpable" for initially covering up the full dangers of the COVID-19 virus, which originated in Wuhan, China.


Amid COVID-19 pandemic, pope prays for homeless, cites newspaper photo

Catholic News Service, April 2

During his livestreamed daily morning Mass, Pope Francis prayed that the coronavirus pandemic may awaken people's consciences to the plight of homeless men and women suffering in the world.


The church after coronavirus: Crisis exposes what is essential

NCR, April 2 

The coronavirus pandemic is fundamentally changing how we do and be church.

Over the past week, NCR surveyed two dozen theologians, social directors, non-profit leaders and pastors, asking them each to consider how our response to the pandemic may affect us in years to come. Part two: questions of church governance.


African Catholics move to livestreamed Masses, 'spiritual Communion'

Patrick Egwu (NCR), April 2 

During the coronavirus pandemic, dioceses and parishes across Africa are moving Masses online, holding spiritual and special Communion services. Church activities such as Easter programs have also been suspended as a way of combating the outbreak. NCR correspondent Patrick Egwu examines the situation in some African countries.


The cloisters of our homes: shelter-in-place as vocation

Rebecca Collins Jordan (NCR), April 2 

Over the past few weeks, I've started to feel a little cloistered — haven't you? Shut into my home all day except for a brief walking respite, I have come to know these walls and windows well. And, in the midst of my isolation, I have started to reframe my reality to tolerate it better and to call it a temporary monastic calling.


D.C.'s quiet emphasizes value of community and consolation

Fr. Peter Daly (NCR), April 2 

It's quiet. Not much is moving around me in Washington, D.C., in this season of coronavirus.


How to build mutual aid that will last after the Coronavirus pandemic

America, April 1 

Some of the holiest experiences of my life have been experiences of mutual aid—the kinds of coming together that are now spreading around the world along with the coronavirus.


Coronavirus has cancelled public Masses. How can we participate in our own homes?

America, March 31 

The first Sunday the doors of my parish remained locked all day, I needed to go to Mass. As a New Yorker, my Sunday obligation, like that of most American Catholics at that point, had been lifted. But I needed to feel, in a moment when my body had to remain distant from the bodies of others, the paradoxical unity of the Body of Christ.


States Consider Whether Religious Services Qualify As 'Essential'

NPR, April 1 

The nationwide move to close churches, synagogues and mosques as part of the broader effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus is meeting some new resistance.


Texas pastors demand a “religious liberty” exemption to coronavirus stay-at-home orders

Vox, April 1 

The restriction on in-person worship services in the Houston area has sparked a lawsuit, filed by three Texas pastors and Steven Hotze, a medical doctor and anti-LGBT Republican activist whose political action committee was labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.


Terminal cancer means I won't see the other side of lockdown

The Guardian, April 2 

I imagined spending my last weeks with friends. Isolated in my flat, I’m having to rethink what a ‘good death’ might be.

Social distancing works. The earlier the better, California and Washington data show.

The Washington Post, April 1 

Two weeks into mandatory stay-at-home orders in the San Francisco Bay area and Washington state, there’s evidence the curve of infections is flattening compared with other U.S. metro areas.


Florida Governor, at Long Last, Orders Residents to Stay Home to Avoid Coronavirus

The New York Times, April 1 

Florida’s coronavirus cases kept ballooning, especially in the dense neighborhoods of Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Hospitals in Fort Myers and Naples begged for donations of masks and other protective equipment. Young people started to die.

And still, Gov. Ron DeSantis resisted. The man entrusted with keeping many of the country’s grandparents safe did not want to dictate that all Floridians had to stay at home.


Anthony Fauci’s security is stepped up as doctor and face of U.S. coronavirus response receives threats

The Washington Post, April 1 

Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-diseases expert and the face of the U.S. response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, is facing growing threats to his personal safety, prompting the government to step up his security, according to people familiar with the matter.


Global coronavirus infections near million mark after 'near exponential growth'

The Guardian, April 2 

Confirmed Covid-19 infections are nearing the one million mark after “near exponential growth” saw global cases more than double in the past week.

The World Health Organization chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned of the approaching milestone as new cases reached almost every country and territory across the world.


Making Sense of Italy’s Staggering COVID-19 Death Toll

The Daily Beast, April 1 

Less than six weeks after COVID-19 turned Italy into the Wuhan of Europe, more than 12,400 people have died, nearly four times as many as China. What Italy’s dead can tell us.


London hospital almost runs out of oxygen for Covid-19 patient

The Guardian, April 2 

A major NHS hospital almost ran out of oxygen for its Covid-19 patients on ventilators because it was treating so many people with the disease who needed help to breathe.


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