Last night, 1,600 Mormon missionaries returned to Salt Lake City from their posts in South Korea and the Philippines in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
That’s good. That’s smart. They shouldn’t be there even when there’s not a pandemic but that’s another story. The plan is for those missionaries to self-quarantine for the next two weeks.
And yet when they arrived home, all social distancing warnings went right out the window. Their families greeted them at the airport without any awareness of how that’s precisely what the virus wants.
Hundreds of missionaries from the Philippines are coming back to Salt Lake City today. Social distancing is out the window as people welcome back their family members with posters, balloons, and hugs. @KUTV2News pic.twitter.com/CeyRDtRv9x
— Kelly Vaughen (@KellyVaughen) March 22, 2020
Even the Governor and Lt. Governor were thinking, Mormons, you’ve got to be kidding me.
As missionaries return home due to the spread of COVID-19 across the globe, they should not be met by big groups of family or friends. Large welcome parties are dangerous and could greatly increase the spread of coronavirus in our state.— Gov. Gary Herbert (@GovHerbert) March 23, 2020
Really disappointed in the behavior we saw from missionary families at the SLC airport tonight. I get it, I’ve been there (and still have a child serving), but this is unacceptable. In a time of shared sacrifice, we must do better to save lives. #SocialDistancing
— Spencer Cox (@SpencerJCox) March 23, 2020
For what it’s worth, airport officials said they worked with the LDS Church to limit family members to “two per missionary” and they were told to wait in their cars. The Mormons just ignored those rules.
So those missionaries came home due to the outbreak, only to put themselves in more danger. Heavenly Father doesn’t offer immunity to COVID-19.
If the Church can’t control its own members, then it shouldn’t be telling them to go overseas to spread a different kind of virus.