Downtown Salt Lake Empty During General Conference
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The 190th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been like no other due to COVID-19 concerns.
Temple Square was empty as members of the Church stayed home to watch the digital-only transmissions on Saturday. Usually, officials said more than 100,000 people gather in downtown Salt Lake City during General Conference weekend.
“Something is different,” said Tami Schellenberg. “Something is changing and you can feel it, and also a feeling of gathering. Even though no one is here, everyone is tuning in.”
Those changes have come at a price for local businesses, who were trying to make the most of the situation.
“We have a lot of missionaries, returned missionaries from Venezuela that would come through here and that’s really awesome,” said Erick Pernia of Arempa Venezuelan Cuisine. “We’re not going to see that (this year).”
That lack of foot traffic added to the economic pinch downtown restaurants, hotels and stores are already experiencing.
“Regionally people from Idaho, Wyoming and Montana plan their regular shopping trips around these conference weekends and those are substantial days typically for those stores,” said Dee Brewer of Salt Lake’s Downtown Alliance.
But even so, businesses weren’t giving up. For example, Arempa’s was offering online orders and deliveries in between conference sessions.
“We’re not going to win by just sitting on our hands and waiting for it to end,” Pernia said. “It’s definitely been scary but we are trying to focus more on the positive side of things, learning what we can do to stay ahead of it.”
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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.
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.
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