ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — One of the oldest Catholic dioceses in the United States will again be foregoing Sunday Mass indefinitely as New Mexico marks its latest surge of COVID-19 cases.
Archbishop John C. Wester is directing churches within the northern New Mexico diocese to cease regular Mass schedules after Sunday. He’s encouraging Masses to be streamed online or recorded so that they can be accessed by people at home. He’s also calling for funeral services and weddings to be delayed.
The guidance comes as state officials have been pushing people to stay home and adhere to the provisions of the public health order.
“Combined with the perennial influenza season which is fast approaching and persons being in closer quarters during the winter, this portends a ‘perfect storm’ to form an extremely hazardous situation,” Wester said in a message to parishioners.
He pointed to data that shows the demographics of COVID-19 cases migrating toward the younger ages and the uptick of hospitalizations, saying there are concerns about the state’s health care system reaching maximum capacity for treating patients.
Wester did say there has been no significant increase in the number of cases within the Catholic schools that are part of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. Under his guidance, schools may remain open in accordance with the judgment of the pastor, superintendent and principals.
If cases begin to rise and the need arises to end in-person learning, he said schools should begin arranging to provide online classes exclusively.