The Utah Area Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which consists of local leaders who preside over the church’s activities in the region, asked church members thru email to wear face masks in public “for the blessing and benefit of all.
According to The Deseret News, Elders Craig Christensen, Randy Funk, and Walter González — the area’s three leaders — citing “growing chorus of medical authorities,” recommended members of the church wear masks both indoors and outdoors to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“We are in the midst of a global pandemic unlike any the world has experienced in more than a century,” the email reads. “Latter-day Saints are not immune.”
The three leaders, who comprise the Utah Area Presidency, applauded the members who returned to church services wearing face coverings.
“Now we ask all Latter-day Saints in the Utah Area to be good citizens by wearing face coverings when in public,” they wrote in the email.
As per Utah’s state health department, there are nearly 30,000 coronavirus cases in the area. Almost half of those cases are in Salt Lake County, the most populous county in the state where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is based. The highest case rate is in San Juan County, a part of the Navajo Nation, which in May had the highest per capita infection rate in America.
In a study published in June, paired with social distancing, face coverings are the most effective way to prevent coronavirus transmission.
Though many religious leaders modified their services for the pandemic, coronavirus safety measures have been ignored in some religious circles. At least two pastors in Louisiana and Florida were arrested for holding services after places of worship were ordered to close during statewide lockdown orders.