Coronavirus Worries Alter Worship Services Statewide On Nat’l Day Of Prayer

Mar 15, 2020, 7:40 PM | Updated: 10:03 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Due to restrictions on gatherings in place statewide due to coronavirus worries, members of different faiths worshipped in unique ways on a National Day of Prayer Sunday.

Here in Utah, many churches decided to temporarily suspend public gatherings and worship services. But that didn’t mean they weren’t coming together.

From outside the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City, you could hear the hymns of praise as priests delivered a message of faith during Sunday Mass.

However, it was a mass shared to empty pews as parishioners, like Juan Lopez and his family, who are visiting from California, were turned away.

“I wasn’t sure if it would be closed, but I still wanted to check,” Lopez said. “As I entered, of course the priest told us there is no mass today due to the coronavirus.”

After Governor Gary Herbert’s announcement to limit public gatherings to no more than 100 healthy people, churches of several denominations are temporarily suspending public worship, to slow the spread of COVID-19.

However, religious leaders of all faiths found creative ways to share messages of hope, going digital and, in several instances, live streaming Sunday services.

Leaders including President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints also posted messages of hope online.

“I love you, I pray for you and I promise that you will receive comfort and peace as you continue to hear him,” Nelson said in a video posted Sunday.

They encouraged those of all faiths to join in the National Day of Prayer for Americans affected by the coronavirus pandemic, as declared by President Donald Trump.

“I think it’s great because I think we all should get together, I believe the president said today would be a national day of prayer,” Lopez said. “So I think we should all start praying, hopefully it goes away and you know everybody can get well, those that are sick.”

While there was no clear date on when regular worship will resume religious leaders encourage all to look out for one another, as the Very Reverend Scott Hayashi, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah, shared.

“Right now we are worried about contracting the virus because of how terribly contagious it is, but we should also be contagious in love,” Hayashi said. “Just as I think looking out for the neighbor means not going to the grocery store and buying up all the food, because our neighbor might need that food as well.”

Hayashi spoke with KSL from his home where he is under a self-quarantine because he has a dry cough and is considered high risk for contracting the virus. Hayashi said the quarantine hasn’t kept him from reaching out to others via email and phone. He said he’s actually been busier.

Most churches said they are suspending public worship until early April, but said they could change depending on circumstances.

Coronavirus Resources

How Do I Prevent It?

The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:

  • Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

The CDC does not recommend wearing a face mask respirator to protect yourself from coronavirus unless a healthcare professional recommends it.

How To Get Help

If you’re worried you may have COVID-19, you can contact the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707 to speak to trained healthcare professionals. You can also use telehealth services through your healthcare providers.

Additional Resources

If you see evidence of PRICE GOUGING, the Utah Attorney General’s Office wants you to report it. Common items in question include toilet paper, water, hand sanitizer, certain household cleaners, and even cold medicine and baby formula. Authorities are asking anyone who sees price gouging to report it to the Utah Division of Consumer Protection at 801-530-6601 or 800-721-7233. The division can also be reached by email at

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Coronavirus Worries Alter Worship Services Statewide On Nat’l Day Of Prayer