In anticipation of Ash Wednesday, several inquiries have been received about the imposition of ashes, arising from the January 11, 2021 Note issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, which provided instructions for Ash Wednesday 2021.
However, since that time, more is known about how COVID-19 is transmitted. “COVID-19 is spread in three main ways:
• Breathing in air when close to an infected person who is exhaling small droplets and particles that contain the virus.
• Having these small droplets and particles that contain virus land on the eyes, nose, or mouth, especially through splashes and sprays like a cough or sneeze.
• Touching eyes, nose, or mouth with hands that have the virus on them.” (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-covid-spreads.html)
Noting the above, ashes are again imposed in the traditional manner in the United States, making the Sign of the Cross with the thumb on the foreheads of the faithful, while praying each time: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”, or “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”