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Utah faith leaders urged to prepare congregations for COVID-19

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Posted at 8:37 AM, Mar 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-08 10:41:59-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Faith leaders across Utah are being urged by Governor Gary Herbert to prepare their congregations for COVID-19.

In a letter to religious leaders across the state, the governor asked them to share some best practices to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus. Utah has its first confirmed case, a 60-year-old person from Davis County.

"While this case is travel-related, we all know many residents of our communities are concerned about the spread of the virus, and many are wondering how to best protect and care for themselves and their families," the governor wrote.

As faith leaders, the governor said, "you are on the front lines of tending to and caring for individuals and families across the state." He and Lt. Governor Spencer Cox asked them to share some information from Utah's Department of Health and the COVID-19 task force.

Read the health advisories here:

Some faith traditions are already addressing the spread of COVID-19. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the largest faith in Utah, has warned international members against traveling to the United States for its semi-annual General Conference next month. Overseas, Latter-day Saint temples have been closed and some worship services suspended.

Locally, the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City said Bishop Oscar Solis has issued some guidelines and is monitoring state advisories.

Bishop Scott Hayashi of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah said in a Facebook post that "people may consider refraining from receiving wine at Communion if they have concerns about the common cup."

In an email to its members, the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake has urged people who are sick to stay at home from Friday prayers or Sunday school.

"If you are sick and come to the masjid, you may want to bring your own rug with you and CDC recommended face-mask. You don’t know who’s going to make Sojood in the same place after you or who has before you," the society wrote.