Archbishop Timothy Dolan delivers his homily over empty pews as he leads an Easter Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York, Sunday, April 12, 2020.
Archbishop Timothy Dolan delivers his homily over empty pews as he leads an Easter Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York, Sunday, April 12, 2020.

Christians around the world are celebrating Easter Sunday, but their observances are different this year because of COVID-19.

Instead of going to church, many are participating in virtual observances of one of Christianity's holiest of days as much of the world has been ordered to stay home to curb the tide of the virus.

Pope Francis will livestream his Mass from the Vatican.  

Pope Francis reads his "Urbi et Orbi" ("To the City and the World") message in St. Peter's Basilica with no public participation due to an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Easter Sunday at the Vatican.

Some defiant U.S. ministers, however, have said they are inviting worshippers to come to their churches, even though their cities have a shelter in place order and have banned large gatherings.

The U.S. is leading the world in cases and deaths due to the virus. The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reports the U.S. has more than half a million cases and more than 20,000 deaths. 

New York state, the hardest hit in the U.S., reported 758 deaths Saturday, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo.

In his daily coronavirus briefing, Cuomo announced Sunday that he has issued an executive order mandating that employers provide all essential employees with face masks to be worn any time they interact with the public.

Italian singer Andrea Bocelli talks with his wife Veronica Berti prior to performing outside the Duomo cathedral, on Easter…
Bocelli Gives 'Music for Hope' Solo Performance from the Duomo of Milan
Renowned Italian tenor sang ‘Amazing Grace’ in front of the cathedral, the square where also La Scala stands was empty

The World Health Organization said Saturday that it was examining reports of recovered COVID-19 patients testing positive again in South Korea as they were about to be discharged from hospitals. 

Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters the virus might have been “reactivated” in 91 patients instead of their being reinfected. 

WHO said in a statement, “We are aware of these reports of individuals who have tested negative for COVID-19 using PCR [polymerase chain reaction] testing and then after some days testing positive again.” 

Too Early to Tell When Life Will Be Back to Normal in the US

The organization said it was “closely liaising with our clinical experts and working hard to get more information on those individual cases.” 

There were more than 1.8 million cases and more than 112,000 deaths worldwide – in 193 countries -- as of Sunday afternoon, according to Hopkins' statistics. 

As the virus spreads and death tolls climb, many public health experts throughout the world believe fatalities are much higher than has been reported, because postmortem testing has been limited. Some COVID-19 deaths were not attributed to the disease, they think, and other deaths go unreported because of homelessness and other factors. 

China continued to report low numbers of new cases of the virus Friday, saying Hubei province, where the virus originated, logged zero new cases, while the rest of China recorded 46 new cases. 

A Chinese study suggested that coronavirus particles can travel up to 4 meters from infected patients. The WHO recommends that people stay at least 1 meter away from someone who is sneezing, while the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a distance of about 2 meters. 

The study, published Friday in the CDC publication Emerging Infectious Diseases, was conducted February 10 to March 2 in two hospitals in Wuhan. 

A study conducted in the U.S. by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that sneezes and coughs could spread the virus more than 8.2 meters. 

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