The Mormon church (also known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) has over 70,000 missionaries currently serving on missions around the world. They are serving in over 160 countries. Men serve for two years starting at age 18 while women serve for a year and a half starting at age 19.
You can imagine the logistical challenges with the current coronavirus crisis and removing these missionaries in countries that have closed their borders. In the Philippines specifically, the Mormon church chartered six Delta flights from the Philippines back to Salt Lake City because of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints decision that all non-native missionaries leave the Philippines due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Their flights arrived tonight at Salt Lake City airport. The missionaries will now go home and self quarantine with their families for 14 days. In anticipation of this, the Mormon leaders had sent guidance to every parent picking up their missionaries to send only one representative, wait in the car for their missionaries and to practice social distancing.
“Parents or guardians should go to the airport alone to meet a returning missionary and practice safe social distancing while there. That way the missionary is able to properly begin self-isolation.”
Unfortunately, the families didn’t listen and hundred of parents gathered around waiting for the missionaries to walk out to top of the parking structure.
Update: The church has sent out a message saying parents should go to the airport alone to meet their missionaries. pic.twitter.com/FYtkpI7Ajd
— Kelly Vaughen (@KellyVaughen) March 23, 2020
As someone staying and working from home per the governor’s instructions, this infuriates me. I understand the excitement in seeing someone that has been gone for two years but this is absolutely irresponsible and careless and will not help flatten the curve of the coronavirus.
I anticipate that this same scenario is going to play out over and over as tens of thousands of missionaries are brought back to Utah and something has to be done immediately to get people to distance themselves.