Mormon church to demand masks in temples amid COVID wave

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Wednesday that masks will be needed inside temples to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Church leaders said in a statement that masks will be temporarily required in order to keep the temples open. The post was the latest in a series of statements from church leaders encouraging COVID-19 masking and vaccination efforts.

“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 employees are requested to wear face masks at all times in the temple. “

In Utah, where the church is based, a summer wave of the virus among unvaccinated residents continued to grow as vaccination rates edged up.

Data from the Utah Department of Health showed that in the past 28 days, residents of the state who are not vaccinated 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 aged 12 and older were fully immunized on Tuesday, state data showed. Utah has reported 25 new deaths from COVID-19, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 2,829.

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