SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, March 23, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — As missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints returned home from the Philippines on Sunday, their families rushed to meet them at Salt Lake City International Airport.
Under normal circumstances, the welcome would have been expected — eagerly anticipated — and the hugs and handshakes, the crush of moms, dads and siblings greeting their young missionaries would warm any observer’s heart.
But things are different these days, what with health officials warning everyone on the planet to stay home and “social distance” to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.
In fact, COVID-19 is the reason the Church is bringing the missionaries home, where they are expected to self-quarantine for two weeks and phone their health care provider if they experience any symptoms of the potentially deadly virus.
After viewing a video clip of the families at the airport, waiting to greet each returning missionary, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox expressed his thoughts via Twitter.
“Really disappointed in the behavior we saw from missionary families at the SLC airport tonight,” Cox, who heads Utah’s coronavirus task force, tweeted. “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”
Earlier Sunday, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert tweeted:
“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.”
And: “Parents, please go to the airport alone to pick up your returning missionaries, and help them strictly follow all self-isolation procedures for their first 14 days at home.”
Officials from the medical community and every level of government have been reminding the public repeatedly to stay home if possible, maintain a distance of at least six feet from other people, wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer, don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth, and limit any gatherings to 50 people or even 10 or fewer, depending on your age and your health.
So, Cox wasn’t as thrilled as the families at the airport when he saw the video of hundreds of people standing not six feet apart from each other, but shoulder-to-shoulder, as they crowded together to greet each returning missionary with cheers and applause, sharing their happiness, and possibly sharing a virus for which there is currently no cure.