‘Latter-day Saints are not immune’: Church leaders ask Utah members to wear masks

ST. GEORGE — In the wake of increasing COVID-19 cases across the state, the Utah Area Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent an email to Utah church members Friday evening asking them to wear face masks when they attend church meetings or are out in public in general.

A sign inside the Harmons grocery store in St. George asking customers to wear face masks, St. George, Utah, June 26, 2020 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Reaction among church members to the request over social media has been mixed. Some say they will support and will follow through with the action, while others maintain being made to wear a mask is a threat to their personal liberty.

Friday’s letter was sent to church members following a record-breaking single-day high of 867 new cases being reported by the state.

“Latter-day Saints are not immune,” the Utah Area Presidency wrote in the letter.

On Saturday, Southern Utah passed 2,000 people infected with the virus since the first positive test in Southern Utah on March 21. The Utah Department of Health also reported the death of a 25 to 44-year-old Washington County woman from COVID-19, who was not hospitalized at the time of her death.    

Residents drop off homemade masks at the 400 East Campus of Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George, Utah, on May 30, 2020. | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

Gov. Gary Herbert previously mandated that masks be worn in state facilities, colleges and universities. Earlier this week, he extended that order to the state’s public schools.

While the governor has stopped short of issuing a statewide mask mandate as has been done in neighboring Nevada and over 20 other states, a call for such a mandate has been made by the Utah Hospital Association.

In Southern Utah, the Springdale Town Council adopted a citywide mask mandate that started July 3.

The LDS church’s Utah Area Presidency letter to members follows below.

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

We are in the midst of a global pandemic unlike any the world has experienced in more than a century. The effects of this escalating health crisis are being felt everywhere, with incidents of COVID-19 infection rising dramatically especially in the United States, including in Utah. Latter-day Saints are not immune. Just today, more than 800 new infections were reported in our state.

A growing chorus of medical authorities has confirmed that the simple wearing of a face covering when in public and when social distancing is not possible will significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19. This is true both indoors and outdoors.

We note with appreciation the care exhibited by our members in returning to sacrament meetings wearing face masks. Now we ask all Latter-day Saints in the Utah Area to be good citizens by wearing face coverings when in public. Doing so will help promote the health and general welfare of all.

We are most grateful for all you do to minister to one another and to your neighbors. Please join with us now in common purpose for the blessing and benefit of all.

Sincerely yours,

Elder Craig C. Christensen
Elder Randy D. Funk
Elder Walter F. González

Utah Area Presidency

COVID-19 information resources

St. George News has made every effort to ensure the information in this story is accurate at the time it was written. However, as the situation and science surrounding the coronavirus continues to evolve, it’s possible that some data has changed.

We invite you to check the resources below for up-to-date information and resources.

Southern Utah coronavirus count (as of July 11, 2020, seven-day average in parentheses)

Positive COVID-19 tests: 2,005 (49.3 new infections per day in seven days, rising since last report)

  • Washington County: 1,588 (40.7 per day, rising)
  • Iron County: 370 (6.5 per day, rising)
  • Garfield County: 18 (0.4 per day, steady) 
  • Kane County: 17 (1.4 per day, rising)
  • Beaver County: 12 (0.3 per day, dropping) 

Deaths: 17 (0.7 per day, rising)

  • Washington County: 15 (1 new)
  • Iron County: 1
  • Garfield County: 1

Hospitalized: 18 (rising) 

Tested: 23,339

Recovered: 1,246

Current Utah seven-day average (Goal of less than 500 by Aug. 1 ): 614 (rising)

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