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 temporarily in an effort to keep temples open. The message was the latest in a series of statements from church leaders encouraging masking and vaccination efforts 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 said in a statement. “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.
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Data from the Utah Health Department showed that in the last 28 days state residents who are unvaccinated are 5.9 times more likely to die from COVID-19 and 7.2 times more likely to be hospitalized than those who are vaccinated.
About 64% of Utah residents ages 12 and older were fully vaccinated as of Tuesday, state data shows. Utah reported 25 new deaths from COVID-19, bringing the total since the pandemic began to 2,829.