As health departments in nearly every state are reporting spikes in flu deaths among all age groups, the Catholic church isn’t taking any chances. They’re issuing new guidelines governing behavior at services in an effort to reduce the number of potentially dangerous germs being passed from person to person. In New Mexico, where nearly 50 people have died from the flu, The Archdiocese of Santa Fe sent a letter to churches statewide discouraging parishioners from shaking hands, holding hands during prayers and sharing a goblet for Communion.

Church members seem to think it’s a good idea, under the circumstances. “Well, I never liked holding hands at church to start with,” Jim Allen told KOAT. “I don’t believe it’s breaking any sacred traditions. If you want to receive Christ, I think He can do all things,” said “Susan,” another member. On the other side of the country, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, Maine has also instituted precautions to stop the flu from spreading. Their notice reads, “all ministers of Holy Communion must sanitize their hands before and after distributing Holy Communion. MORE