SALT LAKE CITY — A top leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Elder Gerrit W. Gong and his wife, Susan Lindsay Gong, tested positive for the virus, days after missing the faith’s semi-annual general conference.
Church spokesman Eric Hawkins confirmed Elder Gong’s diagnosis in a statement Tuesday morning. He said, “Their condition is mild, but they are being cautious and their health is being carefully monitored by doctors. The Church will follow all appropriate health protocols for contact tracing and will continue to follow health guidelines for the virus to protect Church leaders, including self-isolation, as appropriate.”
Elder Gong was absent from last weekend’s general conference. The two-day meetings, traditionally held in the Church’s 20,000 seat conference center, was instead broadcast from a small theater. There were only a select number of attendees present who were participating in the conference sessions.
In a prerecorded message, Elder Gong said answers to prayers often come during hard experiences in life. The talk was broadcast during the Saturday afternoon session of the conference.
“Truly, for those with faithful hearts and eyes to see,” said Elder Gong, “the Lord’s tender mercies are manifest amidst life’s challenges. Faithfully-met challenges and sacrifice do bring the blessings of heaven. In this mortality, we may lose or wait for some things for a time, but in the end we will find what matters most. That is His promise.”
Church spokesman Doug Anderson explained that Elder Gong was absent from the conference because he had potentially been exposed to COVID-19. He said he was feeling well, but out of an abundance of caution was participating in general conference from home.
During his recorded message, Elder Gong also spoke about the growth of the Church during the past 200 years.
“As we discover God, sometimes unexpected answers to prayers take us from the street, bring us to community, chase darkness from our souls, and guide us to find spiritual refuge and belonging in the goodness of His covenants and abiding love. Great things often begin small, but God’s miracles are manifest daily.”
Hawkins said the Church continues to encourage members to take steps to protect themselves and one another during the continued global pandemic.