Provo MTC drops COVID-19 vaccination, testing; masks now optional


Missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints pay attention as Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks on the Missionary Coaching Heart in Provo on Aug. 24, 2021. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret Information)

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PROVO — New Latter-day Saint missionaries now not want a COVID-19 vaccination or have a unfavorable COVID-19 take a look at to enter the Missionary Coaching Heart in Provo, Utah, in accordance with a letter despatched by e-mail from the MTC to missionaries.

Masks are elective, too, in accordance with the e-mail.

“You’ll now decide for your self whether or not to make use of a facemask in all settings on the Provo MTC based mostly by yourself particular person circumstances,” the letter mentioned. “We encourage all to increase love and respect to others and their choices.”

The adjustments had been confirmed by church spokesman Sam Penrod.

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has operated Missionary Coaching Facilities all through the world since final summer time, sustaining strict COVID-19 necessities,” Penrod mentioned in an announcement offered Tuesday to the Deseret Information. “Following the current steerage of native well being departments and authorities officers, church leaders have diminished a few of these necessities at varied coaching facilities, corresponding to permitting masks to be elective, eliminating testing earlier than arrival and inspiring however not requiring vaccination for missionaries who’re coaching in individual.”

In April 2021, the church included the COVID-19 vaccination among the many required immunizations for all missionaries. Since then, those that decline vaccination are assigned to serve inside their house nation.

“Up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination continues to be required for all missionaries to serve in assignments outdoors of their house international locations,” Penrod mentioned Tuesday.

Missionaries coaching on the Provo MTC will proceed to be required to put on masks when attending the Provo Utah Temple, the letter to missionaries mentioned. Masks stay required in all temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

After missionaries go away the MTC for his or her assignments around the globe, they are going to be required to observe their mission’s masks tips.

“Please do not forget that these adjustments apply to MTC coaching solely,” the letter mentioned. “You should still be required to put on masks, be examined, and/or be vaccinated relying on journey necessities or necessities to your assigned mission.”

The rules had been up to date because the U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention relaxed masks tips for almost all of the nation, together with Utah County, the place Provo is the county seat. The Utah Legislature ended a statewide masks mandate practically a 12 months in the past.

The replace comes two months after the Omicron variant prompted a COVID-19 outbreak on the Provo MTC. Over 15% of the MTC’s trainees examined optimistic in late December. Most skilled no or gentle signs. That very same week, Omicron-driven circumstances rose 60% nationally. Circumstances have subsided since then.

The up to date tips apply solely to the Provo MTC. As Penrod indicated, adjustments might be instituted on the church’s 9 different MTCs “as COVID circumstances and native authorities restrictions enable,” the e-mail mentioned.

The up to date tips enable each vaccinated and unvaccinated missionaries to attend on-site coaching on the Provo MTC. All missionaries who started or will start the at-home portion of their coaching on Feb. 21 or later ought to plan to reach on the MTC starting on March 30 to finish their coaching, the letter mentioned.

A missionary participates in the training for two missions and the MTC in Bogotá, Colombia, on Nov. 17, 2021.
A missionary participates within the coaching for 2 missions and the MTC in Bogotá, Colombia, on Nov. 17, 2021. (Picture: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

Some missionaries should still require a COVID-19 take a look at previous to arrival on the Provo MTC whether it is required for airline journey to the MTC. Testing is also required if a missionary has chilly or flu-like signs within the days earlier than coming into the MTC, the letter mentioned.

Totally vaccinated missionaries with callings to serve in English started to return to the Provo MTC on June 23, ending a 14-month hiatus. The church had closed all 10 MTCs as a result of COVID-19 pandemic. Through the 14 months the MTCs had been closed, missionaries had educated solely on-line from house.

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North Korea fires ballistic missile in resumption of testing : NPR


Individuals on the Seoul Railway station watch a TV exhibiting a file picture of North Korea’s missile launch throughout a information program on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022.

Ahn Younger-joon/AP


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Ahn Younger-joon/AP


Individuals on the Seoul Railway station watch a TV exhibiting a file picture of North Korea’s missile launch throughout a information program on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022.

Ahn Younger-joon/AP

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea launched a ballistic missile into the ocean on Sunday, its neighbors mentioned, in a resumption of weapons assessments that got here as the USA and its allies are centered on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The North Korean launch was the eighth of its form this 12 months and the primary since Jan. 30. Some consultants have mentioned North Korea is attempting to excellent its weapons know-how and strain the USA into providing concessions like sanctions aid amid long-stalled disarmament talks. They are saying North Korea additionally would possibly view the U.S. preoccupation with the Ukraine battle as an opportunity to speed up testing exercise with none critical response from Washington.

Japanese Protection Minister Nobuo Kishi mentioned the North Korean missile flew about 300 kilometers (190 miles) at a most altitude of about 600 kilometers (370 miles) earlier than touchdown off North Korea’s japanese coast and out of doors Japan’s Unique Financial Zone. No injury to vessels or plane has been reported, he mentioned.

“If North Korea intentionally carried out the missile launch whereas the worldwide neighborhood is distracted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, such an act is totally unforgivable,” he informed reporters. “Regardless of the motives are, North Korea’s repeated missile launches are completely inexcusable and we can’t overlook appreciable missile and nuclear development.”

South Korean officers mentioned in addition they detected the launch from the North’s capital space and expressed “deep considerations and grave remorse” over it.

Throughout an emergency nationwide safety council assembly, prime South Korean officers mentioned the timing of the launch, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, “just isn’t fascinating in any respect for peace and stability on the planet and on the Korean Peninsula,” the presidential Blue Home mentioned.

The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command mentioned later Sunday it condemned the launch and known as on North Korea to chorus from additional destabilizing acts. A command assertion mentioned the U.S. dedication to the protection of South Korea and Japan “stays ironclad,” although Sunday’s launch did not pose an instantaneous menace to U.S. territory and that of its allies.

The launch got here a day after North Korea made its first response to the Ukraine struggle within the type of an article by a authorities analyst that expressed help for Russia and slammed the USA.

“The essential reason behind the Ukraine incident lies within the high-handedness and arbitrariness of the USA, which has ignored Russia’s official requires safety ensures and solely sought a worldwide hegemony and army dominance whereas clinging to its sanctions campaigns,” Ri Ji Music, a researcher at a North Korean state-run institute on worldwide politics, mentioned in a put up revealed on the web site of the Overseas Ministry.

Ri accused Washington of “conceitedness” and “double requirements” as a result of it describes its rivals’ protection measures as provocations or injustices.

The previous Soviet Union was North Korea’s largest assist supplier earlier than its disintegration within the early Nineteen Nineties. Russian President Vladimir Putin has been pushing to revive his nation’s ties with North Korea in what’s seen as a bid to regain its conventional domains of affect and safe extra allies to raised cope with the USA.

Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha College in Seoul, mentioned the Biden administration wants to point out that it maintains a strategic deal with the Indo-Pacific area, together with by responding sternly to Pyongyang’s provocations.

“North Korea just isn’t going to do anybody the favor of staying quiet whereas the world offers with Russia’s aggression in opposition to Ukraine,” Easley mentioned. “Pyongyang has an formidable schedule of army modernization. The Kim regime’s power and legitimacy have develop into tied to testing ever-better missiles.”

North Korea final month carried out seven rounds of missile assessments, a file variety of month-to-month weapons assessments since chief Kim Jong Un took energy in late 2011. North Korea halted testing exercise after the beginning of the Winter Olympics in China, its final main ally and financial pipeline, earlier this month. Some consultants had predicted North Korea would resume weapons launches and probably check larger weapons after the Olympics.

Kim despatched a message to Chinese language President Xi Jinping after the Olympics calling for additional consolidating bilateral ties “into the invincible one” within the face of what he known as “the undisguised hostile coverage and army menace of the U.S. and its satellite tv for pc forces.”

Xi replied to Kim final week, saying China is able to strengthen bilateral ties, in accordance with North Korea’s state media.

U.S.-led diplomacy aimed toward convincing North Korea to surrender its nuclear program in return for financial and political rewards collapsed in early 2019 when then President Donald Trump rejected Kim’s requires in depth sanctions aid in change for restricted denuclearization steps throughout their second summit in Vietnam.

U.S. officers have since repeatedly known as for the resumption of talks with out preconditions, however Pyongyang has mentioned it will not return to the negotiating desk until Washington ends its hostility towards North Korea.