Some Alabama churches called off traditional services and moved worship online this weekend as the number of coronavirus cases in the state continued to rise.
Figures from the Alabama Department of Public Health listed 22 confirmed cases on Sunday evening, including 12 in Jefferson County, three in Tuscaloosa County, two in Shelby County, and one each in Baldwin, Elmore, Lee, Limestone and Montgomery counties.
No deaths from the disease have been reported in Alabama.
The new human coronavirus type emerged in China in December 2019. According to ADPH, patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath appearing anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure.
The state health department advised organizations to cancel any gatherings of 500 people or more Friday after announcing a person in Montgomery County tested positive for the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
The Episcopal bishop for Alabama, Rt. Rev. Kee Sloan, told all the denomination’s churches to cancel their usual services, meetings and even postpone funerals for the rest of March. The church has about 32,000 members and nearly 90 parishes in the state.
Several large Baptist and Methodist churches also canceled in-person services and planned to livestream worship so people could watch on their computers or phones.
Some churches that intended to continue operating as usual made plans to quit greeting members and visitors with handshakes and to collect donations in ways other than the usual method of passing an offering plate.