Today the Church announces that Church gatherings are temporarily suspended worldwide. China led the way in having members adapt to cancelled Church meetings, building swiftly on our experience with the Church's new emphasis on home-centered worship. Now we will all have the opportunity to worship and learn as families, individuals, or small groups without the structure we are used to.

Here is today's announcement from the Newsroom at

The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent the following letter March 12, 2020, to Church members worldwide. 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As promised in our letter of March 11, 2020, we continue to monitor the changing conditions related to COVID-19 throughout the world. We have considered the counsel of local Church leaders, government officials and medical professionals, and have sought the Lord’s guidance in these matters. We now provide the following updated directions.

Beginning immediately, all public gatherings of Church members are being temporarily suspended worldwide until further notice. This includes:
  • Stake conferences, leadership conferences and other large gatherings
  • All public worship services, including sacrament meetings
  • Branch, ward and stake activities
Where possible, please conduct any essential leadership meetings via technology. Specific questions may be referred to local priesthood leaders. Further direction related to other matters will be provided.

Bishops should counsel with their stake president to determine how to make the sacrament available to members at least once a month.

We encourage members in their ministering efforts to care for one another. We should follow the Savior’s example to bless and lift others.

We bear our witness of the Lord’s love during this time of uncertainty. He will bless you to find joy as you do your best to live the gospel of Jesus Christ in every circumstance.


The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
A reasonable call for reducing risk as the SARS-CoV-2 virus is spreading into many nations now creating panic and leading to sometimes draconian steps that can cause plenty of stress and pain on their own. 

Meanwhile, don't panic, but do prepare (some writers like Peggy Noonan may disagree with "don't panic," but I think vigorous, realistic preparation is what they may be calling for). Even if you (mistakenly) think this is no more serious than the ordinary flu, it has already begun to disrupt our society and our basic supply chains, many of which depend upon production in China (they are starting things up again, but it could be a slow process to get supply chains restored). When supply chains break down, markets and financial systems will be hurt. When capital flow and bank liquidity becomes strained, we could see the day when ATMs suddenly cease to work, when banks take a "bank holiday," and when many stores are shut down or have little to sell. What you see happening right now in the stores is not panic, it is preparation, which is a reasonable response (see "Panic? You Haven't Seen Anything Yet... " by Brandon Smith). Real panic is what happens to the unprepared when difficult scenarios they have ignored suddenly take place.
One important suggestion: now is the time to make sure you have a good supply of any essential medications you may need. Ditto for food, water, and some other supplies. If stores and pharmacies have to close for one or two months, are you ready? There's still time to take further steps to prepare.
Continue preparing -- something the U.S. has tragically failed to do when it comes to the most important resource for dealing with this virus, test kits. We should be testing thousands of people each day like Korea and China, but we are just doing small handfuls of testing due to blunders in preparation and some doctors report they can't get government permission to use test kits for people who they think may have the virus (see, for example, the related story at Can't we just admit the problem and ask Korea and China for some medical assistance?

Update, 3/13/2020: reports that based on examination of cases on the Princess Diamond cruise ship, the real mortality rate for the virus is probably around 0.6% on average (much higher for the elderly), making it deadlier than the flu but not nearly as frightening as the questionable 3% figure reported by the World Health Organization. This is consistent with the mortality rates being reported in South Korea based on vastly more extensive testing that we have seen in most other places.

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