SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said Thursday it is suspending all worship services because of the spread of the coronavirus, a decision made hours after Utah’s governor recommended group gatherings in the state be limited to no more than 100 people for at least the next two weeks.
The Utah-based faith sent a letter to members informing them of a decision that also calls on a temporary suspension of all church activities until further notice. The move comes one day after the faith announced it would hold a major conference in early April without attendees, the first time in 60 years that the religion has taken the extraordinary step of barring church members from attending in person.
Earlier Thursday, Gov. Gary Herbert recommended the limit on gatherings of groups larger than 100 people, pointing out that the measure applied to churches, conferences and concerts, but not businesses. Utah is not seeing community spread of the virus, but officials are bracing for that to happen, Herbert said at a news conference in Salt Lake City.
He also recommended that people over the age of 60 avoid gatherings of more than 20 people, and that people work from home if possible.
“It’s better to be too early than to be too late,” Herbert said. “We are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.”
Officials from several colleges including the University of Utah and Utah State University also announced they are canceling in-person classes and moving the rest of the semester online, following the lead of dozens of other universities. The University of Utah also canceled all athletic events while Brigham Young University will hold sporting events without fans.
Five people have tested positive for the virus so far in Utah, including two Utah Jazz basketball players, but no one has died, said Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, who is leading the state’s coronavirus task force. All have contracted the disease while traveling outside of Utah, state epidemiologist Angela Dunn said. She urged caution but also said people can still go to the park with their children and go to the store.
“I want to be very clear: We’re not making these decisions today because things are really bad,” Cox said. “We’re making these today to make sure that things don’t get really bad.”
The state hasn’t been able to test as many people as it would like, Cox said, with a total of about 160 people tested as of Thursday. He said state officials hope to be able to test 1,000 people a day when fully ramped up.
Utah was also at the epicenter of pro sports cancellations Wednesday when Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert became the first NBA player to be diagnosed with the coronavirus Wednesday, leading to the suspension of the NBA season. Gobert’s teammate Donovan Mitchell has also tested positive for the virus.
All the players and team employees except the two players who tested positive were returning from Oklahoma City, said Steve Starks, CEO, of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies that owns the Jazz.
He said the team practice facility and Vivint Smart Home Arena —where the team plays games and other concerts and events take place — are being cleaned and sanitized.
The Utah Legislature said Thursday it plans to allocate about $24 million to provide to health departments in an effort to try and prevent the spread of the virus among older people who are the most vulnerable, according to a news release.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. In China, where the virus first exploded, more than 80,000 people have been diagnosed and more than 61,000 have so far recovered.
Nearly all of Utah’s public schools will remain open for now. But they have been told to cancel any out-of-state travel and consider altering athletic events, assemblies and gatherings of more than 100 people.
Sydnee Dickson, Utah’s superintendent of public instruction, said assessing whether to close schools is more complicated than colleges because schools don’t have the capability to provide online classes and because many families with parents who work would not able to find or pay for child care if their kids were stuck at home. That said, Dickson acknowledged that closures could be coming.
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Grocery stores across the Magic Valley are adjusting hours to accommodate the most vulnerable residents amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.
State officials issued a shelter-in-place order for Blaine County Thursday after 11 more residents and one person from another state tested positive for COVID-19 in the county, bringing the total number of cases there to 17.
Two Twin Falls firefighters and an undisclosed number of Magic Valley Paramedics were exposed to a patient who later tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, the city said in a Thursday statement.
The Magic Valley Arts Council has postponed Art and Soul of the Magic Valley, giving artists more time to register for its 10th annual event.
Health officials have confirmed that a previously announced coronavirus case in Blaine County involves a patient who did not travel out of state and had no contact with any other confirmed COVID-19 patient, making it the first known infection from someone else in Idaho.
In a statement released Thursday all visitor centers at Idaho State Parks are shut down as a precautionary measure to limit propagation of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) – but the parks will remain open to the public.
Twin Falls residents celebrated the end of the World War I with barbecues and parties, oblivious to the risk of spreading the Spanish flu in 1918.
The Cassia County School District is preparing to teach 5,600 student online during the COVID-19 school closures.
Idaho state parks, including City of Rocks National Reserve, Castle Rocks State Park and Thousand Springs, remain open for day use and most camping — but hands-on activities and large group events are discontinued, and premium cabins and picnic shelters closed.
Mini-Cassia school districts started providing free brown bag meals to children under age 18 on Wednesday in response to the COVID-19 school closures.
Lawmakers did not adjourn Wednesday after passing several bills in an attempt to finish earlier than Friday's scheduled deadline.
Two more cases of novel coronavirus reported in south central Idaho, including the first case in Twin Falls County.
A petition drive for a ballot initiative to bring in $170 million for K-12 education by raising Idaho's corporate tax rate and increasing taxes on those making $250,000 per year or more was called off Wednesday due to the coronavirus.
Gov. Brad Little and state health officials issued stricter guidelines on social interaction Wednesday in an attempt to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Catholic and Episcopalian leaders in Idaho have suspended worship services for their respective denominations until at least Palm Sunday.
Gambling will grind to a halt by Wednesday in all of Nevada, including Jackpot, as the governor issued a sweeping statewide order aimed to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.
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A Paul couple brought a moment of cheer to nursing home residents Monday when they dressed as clowns and visited people through their windows.
Pomerelle Mountain Resort will be closed for the season beginning Tuesday afternoon.
DMV services have been suspended and law enforcement agencies will be limiting non-emergency in-person interactions.
Some lawmakers walked away from the legislative session Tuesday over concern for the coronavirus, but Republican leadership is continuing on toward Friday's scheduled finish.
A third case of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, has been confirmed in Blaine County.
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A proposal would offer some relief to many Idaho homeowners. But the plan would cost counties millions, and opponents say that money is needed to combat the novel coronavirus locally.
Most Magic Valley senior centers have suspended congregate meals and activities and nursing homes have restricted visitors due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Jerome Joint School District will close all schools Tuesday, a day ahead of its original date, and city offices and the library are also closed.
The Twin Falls Public Library will be closed for about two weeks.
Schools in the Filer School District will not hold classes Tuesday or Wednesday.
Idaho health officials say people who think they need to be tested for coronavirus should talk to their doctors. But whether someone meets the criteria for the test could depend on which doctor they visit.
Indoor city recreation facilities will be closed, including the City Pool, but some outdoor sports events remain scheduled, Twin Falls officials said Monday.
Indoor city recreation facilities will be closed, including the City Pool, but some outdoor sports events remain scheduled, Twin Falls officials said Monday.
The U.S. House early passed a sweeping coronavirus economic aid package to deal with the virus rapidly spreading across the nation. One Idaho congressman voted against the measure. Another voted for it.
The IHSAA suspended all sanctioned sports and activities through April 5, and the NJCAA canceled its winter championships and spring seasons.
Most Magic Valley school districts are closed for at least part of this week.
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Buhl's Tim Pond reflects on his four weeks in quarantines.
Senior citizens groups are monitoring the latest news on the new coronavirus and preparing to help some of the community’s most vulnerable members potentially deal with the resulting disease.
There is no official statewide plan to reach Spanish-speaking communities about COVID-19. South Central Public Health District and Magic Valley leaders are working to spread translated information.
The first cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, were confirmed in Idaho in the past two days.
Hospitals around the Magic Valley are prepared to care for potential coronavirus patients and some have restricted visitor access.
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The South Central Public Health District has confirmed a second coronavirus case in its area, bringing the total number of cases in Idaho to five.
The coronavirus hasn't hurt too many Magic Valley businesses yet, but that could change as the illness spreads.
Idaho has its first confirmed case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
State officials said the first case of COVID-19, the illness caused from the coronavirus, was in Ada County.
The Buhl School District will join Kimberly schools in canceling Monday classes due to COVID-19.
The Kimberly School District has canceled Monday classes for students so it can prepare for possible long-term closures. Classes are expected to resume Tuesday.
TWIN FALLS — While no confirmed cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, have been found in Idaho, widespread event cance…
The Twin Falls St. Patrick's Day Parade scheduled for Tuesday has been canceled in response to the COVID-19 virus.
The Boise State women’s basketball team will miss a trip to the NCAA Tournament because of the new coronavirus — and all Boise State athletic competitions have been suspended.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said Thursday it is suspending all worship services because of the spread of the coronavirus.
College of Southern Idaho moves classes online to prevent coronavirus spread.
Twin Falls schools announced that parent-teacher conferences will take place over the phone and no more than 250 people will be allowed in any district facility.
The first sporting event cancellations have hit Idaho and include high school and College of Southern Idaho events.
Events include the Falls2Falls Run/Walk on April 18, Spirit of Magic Valley half marathon, 10K, 5K and kids run on May 9, and Cycle Magic Valley on May 16.
The Sun Valley Film Festival announced Thursday that it was canceling its festival, which was scheduled for March 18-22.
Twin Falls city officials posted on Facebook seeking to ease concerns about the city's water system.
TWIN FALLS — City officials said no special events the city is involved with have been canceled and City Hall remains open as of Thursday afternoon.
The annual Share Your Heart Ball, a fundraiser for Camp Rainbow Gold, has been postponed.
Event organizers said ticket sales for the Lights and Lasers show at Shoshone Falls were being postponed due to fears about large gatherings.
The Big Sky Conference has canceled the remaining games in its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments at CenturyLink Arena in Boise.
An Idaho business has been added to a federal health-fraud list for selling unapproved coronavirus treatments.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Wednesday that it will hold a major conference in April that features speeches by top leaders without any attendees because of the spread of the coronavirus.
Treefort Music Festival will be postponed until September, organizers said Wednesday.
The health district based in Twin Falls has opened an information hotline for people to call with concerns about COVID-19.
The Idaho Legislature’s budget committee has approved $2 million in emergency funding to help Idaho prepare and respond to a potential outbreak from the novel coronavirus.
Four Boise State University international students are in self-isolation for 14 days after clearing a health screening for coronavirus COVID-19 upon their arrival to Seattle on Monday.
Although the risk of coronavirus (COVID19) is currently low in Idaho, now is the time to plan and prepare.
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Here's the latest on what state health officials are saying about the coronavirus in Idaho.
Idaho Gov. Brad Little said Wednesday that he is asking the Legislature to free up funds to respond to a potential coronavirus outbreak in Idaho.
All of the IHSAA's activities, including the boys state basketball tournament, will continue as planned through the threat of coronavirus.
“This is something that we plan and train for on a regular basis,” said Josh Jensen, SCPHD Public Health Preparedness Program Manager.
Buhl resident Tim Pond is back in the U.S., but still has to stay away from other people after a coronavirus outbreak on the cruise he was on.
The coronavirus, which has caused more than 550 reported deaths in China and has infected more than 24,000 people worldwide, has affected Idaho’s biggest technology company.
Buhl resident Tim Pond has kept touch with the rest of the world on Facebook after his cruise ship was quarantined Feb. 5 due to the coronavirus.
County commissioners encouraged people to read the whole order, which is attached to this story.
Patients with serious illness from the new coronavirus are pouring into the hospital in rural Blaine County — and it’s a situation that could become dire if the public fails to follow a statewide isolation order, an emergency room physician has warned.
Nearly 33,000 Idaho residents filed for unemployment benefits last week as the Idaho economy continues shedding jobs at a record rate because of the coronavirus, state officials said Thursday.
Even with many people stuck at home, home maintenance businesses are seeing service calls drop by two-thirds or more.
St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center will resume some limited services Friday after widespread COVID-19 cases in Blaine County, including some in health care workers, forced the hospital to close all but emergency services on March 20.
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