SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Wednesday that masks will be required inside temples to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Church leaders said in a statement that masks will be required in an effort to keep temples open. This message was the latest in a string of statements by church leaders encouraging masking or vaccination against COVID-19.
“As cases of COVID-19 increase in many areas, we want to do everything possible to allow temples to remain open,” The church stated. “Therefore, effective immediately, all temple patrons and workers are asked to wear face masks at all times while in the temple.”
In Utah, where the church is based, a summer surge of the virus among unvaccinated residents has continued to grow while vaccination rates have slightly increased.
According to the Utah Health Department, residents who have not been vaccinated in the past 28 days are 5.9 times more likely than others to die from COVID-19. They are also 7.2 times more likely that they will be admitted to the hospital than those who have been vaccinated.
According to state data, 64 percent of Utah’s 12 and older residents were fully vaccinated by Tuesday. Utah has now reported 25 deaths from COVID-19. This brings the total number of deaths since the pandemic to 2,829.