The following excerpts come from the website of the San Jose diocese last week.

….Wash your hands often, especially if you are a greeter, usher, or Communion minister
Soap, water, and a good scrubbing are the best defense against the cold and flu viruses. Scrub your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds—the time it takes to say two quick “Hail Marys.” If you are not near soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand cleanser or disposable hand wipe. Keep a small bottle or packet in your purse or pocket.

Don’t cough or sneeze into your hands

Use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, then throw it away. If you don’t have a tissue handy, do what food-service workers are taught to do: cough or sneeze into your shirt sleeve and avoid touching the area of fabric you coughed into.

Avoid shaking hands with others before, during, and after Mass if you are sick or have been sneezing or coughing.

….Although receiving both the Body and Blood of Christ are encouraged, you only need to receive one form if you are unable to receive both. If you are accustomed to receiving Communion on the tongue, prevent spreading your saliva to the hand of the Communion minister by receiving Communion in the hand while you are sick.

….The best way for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion to clean their hands during the Mass is in their pew, using a sanitizing liquid or antibacterial wipe, just before they come to the sanctuary. The reason for this is that it becomes distracting and inappropriate to see a line of Communion ministers standing near the altar, first, getting a squirt of sanitizing liquid in their hands (the action looks too much like Communion), then, vigorously rubbing their hands just before Communion begins. I’ve also heard reports of Communion ministers trying the shake off the excess liquid from their hands as they are about to receive Communion. This is just bad form and often looks ridiculous.

Remember, if Communion ministers have practiced good hygiene during the Mass and are not sick, there is no obligation for them to wash their hands again during Mass. But if they need to wash their hands during Mass, give your Communion ministers their own travel-size bottle or packet of wipes so they can clean their hands more discreetly in their pews. If this cannot be done, Communion ministers can wash their hands in the sacristy as they come forward to the sanctuary. Anything you do should not delay any part of the Communion Rite or distract from the focus at the altar.

Whatever you do, don’t place a bottle of sanitizing liquid on the altar (I have seen this!) or among the Communion vessels and other sacred items on the side table (I have seen this too). These areas are visually too prominent, and all you will see from the assembly’s vantage point is the soap bottle….

To read entire story, click here.

To read similar directives from Sacramento, click here.