Church services can resume, National Guard will play bigger role in testing for coronavirus in Utah

May 6, 2020, 6:06 PM | Updated: 7:30 pm
church services Utah...
(Interior of The Cathedral of the Madeline in Salt Lake City. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, KSL file)
(Interior of The Cathedral of the Madeline in Salt Lake City. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, KSL file)

SALT LAKE CITY — The head of Utah’s coronavirus response task force is bringing in the Utah National Guard to increase the state’s ability to test people who aren’t showing symptoms.  Plus, he’s hoping to clear up some confusion about religious services in the state. 

When Governor Gary Herbert lowered the state’s risk level and loosened restrictions on social interaction, he said groups should be kept to no more than 20 people

However, retired Major General Jeff Burton, who leads the Utah Coronavirus Task Force, said there is a lot of confusion about the order.

Burton stated the order was directed at family and social gatherings. Under the new gathering order, church services are allowed to resume. There are some requirements, though.

“The one non-negotiable stipulation is the six-foot social distancing required by the CDC,” said Burton.

When the risk level went from red to orange, it allowed churches to open their doors but they have to post signs reminding everyone to keep six feet apart. 

Churches were asked to stream services when they could, and they have to set aside separate times for high-risk people to take part in the services without any “pressure from crowds.”  Additionally, church leaders were asked to consider holding multiple meetings.

“[It depends on] the extent that a church can open, maintain that distancing, and map the seating.  It may be the small church has to have three Sunday services instead of one,” Burton outlined. 



So, can we expect services to resume, soon?  For some churches, yes.  For others, no.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced they’re still monitoring “current situations.”  Church officials also say President Russell M. Nelson, “ assures step-by-step measures will be communicated to make sure it is safe to gather and revisit Church-sponsored activities.”

The timeline is different for the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City.  Reverend Joseph Delka with The Cathedral of the Madeline issued a state to KSL that reads…

Speaking for the Cathedral specifically, we will make the formal announcement this weekend through our live-streamed Masses and other media. The current plan (subject to change over the next few days) is to resume the normal Mass schedule on Monday. We have measures in place to ensure proper social distancing and sanitation. Since our capacity is still limited we are also working on a way to have parishioners sign up for a Mass. This will also help with contact tracing should someone get the virus. At-risk groups are still encouraged to stay home and we will continue live-streaming the Masses for those who are unable to come. 

Some of the details are still being worked out especially now with the news that more people can come. Obviously, this is a complex issue and we want to do our best to keep everyone as safe as possible. 

Rabbi Avremi Zippel with the Chabad Congregation in Salt Lake states…

“Tentatively our plan is to hold our first in-person services with the upcoming Jewish Holiday Shavuot May 29-30. The last Friday and Saturday in May.  We are planning on taking every precaution to make sure we adhere to social distance guidelines.” 

Also, Imam Yasir Butt with the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake sent a statement that reads…

“We are giving that decision to our own committee that is headed by our own doctor.  The last thing we want to do is be the epicenter of the second wave.  We’re not at the point that we feel comfortable. In our services, people are really close to each other, they stand close together. I don’t think anyone has the ability to regulate (the social distancing) guidelines.” 


Over the next few days, people can expect to see the Utah National Guard take a larger role in testing for coronavirus.  Burton says 120 guardsmen will be testing health care workers who aren’t showing symptoms.

“They’ll also be testing folks that are in vulnerable groups, communities where there is an outbreak and so forth,” Burton says.  “They’ll be able to help us with rapid response to hotspots.”

The latest numbers show 5,595 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Utah with 464 hospitalizations and 58 deaths.


Two Utah County businesses accused of ignoring health guidelines, telling COVID positive employees to return to work

Growing a garden to fight the COVID-19 food supply problem

Here come COVID-19 tracing apps – and privacy trade-offs

Today’s Top Stories

COVID-19: Vaccine Watch

A sign reading "immunizations" hangs over a desk. COVID-19 vaccines Utah...
Samantha Herrera

Where to find a COVID-19 vaccine provider for children 5 and under in Utah

COVID-19 vaccines are now available for children as young as 6 months old, but where can you find a vaccine provider for your child in Utah?
9 days ago
A child is comforted after getting his COVID-19 vaccine....
Samantha Herrera

More COVID-19 vaccines ordered in Utah for children as young as 6 months

32,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines for children 6 months and older have been ordered by the Utah Department of Health and Human Services.
10 days ago
This combination of 2022 and 2020 file  photos shows logos for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control...

Marathon US hearings to decide fate of COVID shots for tots

On Wednesday, both Moderna and Pfizer will argue their case. Each company aims to offer a different dose and number of shots.
22 days ago
FILE - A vial of the Phase 3 Novavax coronavirus vaccine is seen ready for use in the trial at St. ...
LOLITA C. BALDOR Associated Press

New vaccine may be option for troops with religious concerns

At least 175 active duty and reserve service members have received the Novavax vaccine. Some have traveled overseas at their own expense to get it.
23 days ago
utah student achievement COVID-19...
Simone Seikaly

Utah student performance knocked down during COVID-19 restrictions

A review of multiple Utah student performance exams found "significant impacts" in mathematics achievement across grades.
30 days ago
COVID-19 vaccine...

Opponents of federal vaccine mandate seek rehearing

Mr. Biden issued an order Sept. 9 that more than 3.5 million federal executive branch workers undergo vaccination, with no option to get regularly tested.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Church services can resume, National Guard will play bigger role in testing for coronavirus in Utah