Mormon Church Is Doing The Right Thing About COVID, But The Far Right In Utah Refuse To Listen

Yesterday was another bad day for the U.S. pandemic-wise-- 176,924 new cases and 1,490 new deaths. Leading the way to hell were the only states with over 10,000 new cases:

  • Texas- 20,984

  • Florida- 17,506

  • Georgia- 12,018

Utah is no longer among the worst in new cases or deaths. Yesterday 1,635 new cases, bringing the state total to 469,429-- 146,424 cases per million residents, 9th worst in the country. 48% of the state is fully vaccinated but that number doesn't reflect the primitive Trump parts of the state. The number is basically that "high" because of 3 counties that are outperforming, the only three counties in the state that Trump lost:

  • Summit Co.- 71% fully vaccinated (Trump- 39.3%)

  • Grand Co.- 55% fully vaccinated (Trump- 43.4%)

  • Salt Lake Co.- 54% fully vaccinated (Trump- 42.5%)

Now compare that to 7 Trumpist hellholes with less than 33% vaccinated:

  • Juab Co.- 27% fully vaccinated (Trump- 86.7%)

  • Sanpete Co.- 30% fully vaccinated (Trump- 82.8%)

  • Piute Co.- 30% fully vaccinated (Trump- 88.7%)

  • Sevier Co.- 31% fully vaccinated (Trump- 87.3%)

  • Uintah Co.- 31% fully vaccinated (Trump- 86.6%)

  • Duchesne Co.- 32% fully vaccinated (Trump- 88.1%)

  • Millard Co.- 32% fully vaccinated (Trump- 87.7%)

You're not going to find a more obvious and perfect correlation anywhere-- the stupider someone is in Utah-- someone unwilling to protect themselves and their families from a deadly disease, the more likely they were to vote for Trump. Or, put another way, the stupider someone is in Utah-- someone who voted for Trump, the more unlikely they were to protect themselves and their families from a deadly virus with a simple, free vaccination.

A few days ago, the Associated Press reported that Utah's Mormons are divided over the vaccine, with the Church of the Latter Day Saints urging people to get vaccinated, while right-wing extremists have convinced themselves that hate talk radio hosts, who are dying nearly as rapidly as they denounce the vaccine, know better. Mormons "remain deeply divided on vaccines and mask-wearing despite consistent guidance from church leaders as the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus spreads." Almost 35% are either skeptical or completely opposed to being vaccinated.

The Utah-based religion of 16 million members worldwide is one of many faiths grappling with how best to navigate the pandemic’s lingering effects.
Divisions on masking and vaccinations in the Latter-day Saint faith appear to be tracking along political lines, with conservative members being more hesitant, said Patrick Mason, associate professor of religion at Utah State University. Mason said the church’s divide is indicative of a larger pattern in the United States of political ideologies shaping people’s religious commitments.
“The common perception of Mormons and Mormonism is that when church leaders speak, church members listen and do what they’re told,” said Mason. “This has revealed sometimes how conditional that loyalty can be.”
The Latter-day Saint faith was one of the first to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, church leaders suspended all church gatherings and closed temples. The church has also held three consecutive major conferences remotely since the pandemic began. The twice-yearly conference usually brings about 100,000 people to Salt Lake City over two days.
Many faith leaders have spoken in support of vaccinations, including Church President Russell M. Nelson, a former heart surgeon who got the vaccine in January and encouraged members to follow his example.
Church-owned Brigham Young University in Utah has asked students to report their vaccination status but is not requiring vaccinations. Masks are required in classrooms and any indoor spaces where social distancing isn’t possible.
Missionaries who are not fully vaccinated are also unable to receive an assignment outside of their home country.
Regarding masks at services, top church officials have said it’s up to bishops to encourage people to follow local public health guidelines.
In mid-August, they went so far as to release a statement calling on members to get the vaccine, which they described as “safe and effective.”
...Some Latter-day Saints have accused those who promote anti-vaccine rhetoric of apostasy, a term that is associated with wickedness and describes when individuals turn away from church principles.
Kristen Chevrier, co-founder of a Utah-based health freedom group that has advocated against vaccine mandates, said the church should not be involved in health choices, and she worries people are being discriminated against based on their vaccine status.
Chevrier, who is a member of the faith, said she rejects the idea that people who are anti-vaccine are apostates. She cited the church’s history of encouraging members to seek their own personal revelations with God.
“How can we say that there’s a blanket statement that applies to everyone regardless of their personal revelation,” said Chevrier, who’s based in American Fork, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) south of Salt Lake City.
Many members have voiced concerns on social media that pro-mask and pro-vaccine sentiments aren’t shared by all regional church leadership, with some describing their experiences as “bishop roulette.”
Unmasked bishops at an Idaho church read the statement from top church officials to the congregation, but only a few chose to start wearing masks.
One member, Marie Johnson, said she has been disappointed that so many in her community have heeded misinformation on social media rather than church leadership’s continued calls for vaccination.
“You can find something on the internet to support any position you want to take,” said Johnson. “Why would you choose the side that doesn’t include your faith leader?”
But some churches began resuming masking practices even before the leaders’ statement.
One Salt Lake City church has been encouraging vulnerable people to participate in meetings virtually and sent a message to congregants in early August recommending that everyone wear masks and get the vaccine.
“Our faith leaders have been so consistent from the very beginning,” said Søren Simonsen, of Salt Lake City. “And to hear people say, ‘This is a hoax, it doesn’t matter, it’s not affecting us,’ when millions of people have died, it’s heartbreaking.”

Grand County is the only one in the state following CDC guidelines about school masking. Next door in Colorado, masking mandates are widespread and the vaccination rate is much higher-- 57% fully vaccinated, with 14 counties over 60%, including Denver (63%), Douglas (61%), Jefferson (63%) and Boulder (68%).

The local Fox News affiliate in Salt Lake City reported these stats comparing the two states:

  • 5-11 year old Utahns were 24 percent more likely to test positive for Covid-19 than their counterparts in Colorado.

  • 12-15 year olds in Utah were 40 percent more likely.

  • 16 and 17 year olds In Utah were 35 percent more likely.

  • Utahns of all ages were 75 percent more likely to test positive for Covid-19.

  • While Utah's referral ICU's have reached capacity, Colorado reports 87 percent of their ICU beds in use.