New England Catholics look forward to celebrating Mass again

Coronavirus Local Impact

Hazel Roberts walks in a field of flags ahead of Memorial Day, Saturday, May 23, 2020, in Cohasset, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

BOSTON (AP) — Major hospitals in Maine’s largest city experienced an uptick in coronavirus hospitalizations; Roman Catholics in New Hampshire can begin receiving Holy Communion again in parishes that follow certain safety guidelines; Vermont’s largest annual event has been canceled for the first time.

Details on those and other coronavirus-related developments across New England:

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CONNECTICUT

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford says it’s making plans to start holding public Masses again.

Leaders of the archdiocese, which includes parishes in Hartford, Litchfield and New Haven counties, said Saturday on Facebook that they plan to resume public Masses on weekdays first before resuming Sunday masses — “while following public health guidelines.”

Guidance for parishes will become public next week, the archdiocese says.

As of Saturday, there were 40,022 coronavirus cases in Connecticut. The state reported 3,675 deaths, up 38 from Friday.

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MAINE

Portland’s largest hospitals saw an uptick in coronavirus hospitalizations over the past week while hospitalizations in other parts of Maine were flat or declined.

Coronavirus cases at Maine Medical Center rose from 15 to 24 over the week ending on Thursday, The Portland Press Herald reported. That’s its highest level of hospitalizations since April 27, the newspaper reported. Northern Light Mercy in Portland’s cases rose from five to eight.

In Bangor, Eastern Maine Medical Center had just one patient each day. Cases peaked there at seven earlier this month.

Maine reported 65 new COVID-19 cases and two additional deaths Saturday. That brings the total number of deaths to 77 and the total number of people who have tested positive to over 2,000, the Maine Center for Disease Control said.

Also Saturday, the Maine Department of Corrections reported that two more inmates tested positive at the Maine Correctional Center, bringing the total to four. All 461 inmates and 283 staff members have been tested, officials said.

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MASSACHUSETTS

Massachusetts’ long-term care facilities are facing a Monday deadline to test at least 90% of their residents and staff for the coronavirus in order to qualify for certain state funding.

Long-term care facilities that meet that benchmark by Monday can qualify for a piece of $130 million in emergency state funds.

A spokesperson for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health told The Cape Cod Times that it would not be able to provide that the number of facilities that have met the testing requirement until after May 25.

Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration has already provided roughly $260 million in nursing home funding since the beginning of the virus crisis, the newspaper reported.

As of Saturday, there were more than 91,660 coronavirus cases reported in Massachusetts after the state added 773 new cases. There were 76 new deaths reported, bringing the state’s death toll to 6,304.

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NEW HAMPSHIRE

Church services are still prohibited, but Roman Catholics in New Hampshire can begin receiving Holy Communion again in parishes that follow certain safety guidelines.

Manchester Bishop Peter Libasci has given priests permission to begin offering Communion this weekend. His instructions specify that pews must be closed off, hand sanitizer must be available at church entrances and masks must be worn except for when receiving Communion.

Aisles must be marked to keep parishioners at least 6 feet apart.

The bishop says he wanted to provide an interim measure while planning for the future resumption of public Masses.

On Saturday, New Hampshire reported 77 new positive COVID-19 cases and four new deaths. That brings the total to 4,089 cases and 208 deaths.

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RHODE ISLAND

East Providence is going forward with its Memorial Day parade this year, but it will look a little different.

Monday’s parade at 10 a.m. will consist only of people in vehicles, and planners are urging participants to stay in their cars throughout.

The motorcade is planning rifle-volley salutes at war memorials across the city, The Providence Journal reported.

Rhode Island reported 18 new coronavirus deaths Saturday, bringing the state’s total to 597. The state also added over 200 new positive cases, for a total of nearly 14,000.

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VERMONT

The Champlain Valley Fair — Vermont’s largest annual event — has been canceled for the first time in its nearly 100-year history.

The event draws about 120,000 people every year and was supposed to start Aug. 28 in Essex Junction, but it has been scrapped because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This would have been its 99th year.

The state is “just not ready for large, unstructured events with hundreds if not thousands of people coming into one area without control and the ability to physically separate,” Gov. Phil Scott said Friday.

Vermont reported two new coronavirus cases of the coronavirus on Saturday, bringing the total to 954. The total number of deaths remained at 54 for the sixth day in a row.

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