Fort Myers church takes precautions to keep members safe amid coronavirus outbreak

Churches in Southwest Florida are working to keep community members safe and healthy.

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Fort Myers is setting up new precautionary measures for congregants amid the effort to combat coronavirus (COVID-19).

This includes no more wine and no more holy water at entrances. Church leaders say they want to be part of the solution, not the problem.

“We have, you know, elderly parishioners,” Bonnie Mesinoff said. “And we don’t want to put anybody at risk.”

That means trying to limit some of the ways parishioners come in contact with each other.

“In the mass when we pass the peace, rather than having a physical contact, we’ve suggested that people just do a reverent bow or just acknowledge each other in some reverent way, again without touching each other,” Rev. Philip Read said.

Clergy members aren’t outside to greet people when mass is over either. They want to ensure the virus does not spread in the community.

“We want people to feel safe when they come here to mass,” Read said.

They say it’s all about being proactive, not reactive.

And St. Luke’s plans to keep it this way as long as COVID-19 continues to be a threat.

The church is also encouraging its members to follow the guidelines set by the CDC and to continue practicing good hygiene both in and out of mass.

“We don’t know exactly what we are dealing with and how virulent it is,” Mesinoff said. “So I think it’s better to err on the side of caution.”

Where Florida resident coronavirus patients are in state

Broward County: 3 patients
Charlotte County: 1 patient
Hillsborough County: 1 patient
Lee County: 1 patient
Manatee County: 2 patients
Okaloosa County: 1 patient
Volusia County: 1 patient

Total: 12 patients

Florida resident coronavirus patients who have died in state

Lee County: 1 patient
Santa Rosa County: 1 patient

Total: 2 patients

The numbers above are current as of 11 p.m. Sunday, March 8. See latest state coronavirus numbers on the Florida Department of health website.


The Florida Department of Health has opened a 24-hour COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Questions may also be emailed to [email protected]. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

Reporter:Andryanna Sheppard
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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