Three Latter-day Saint apostles have contracted COVID-19, and all three now have beaten it.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced for the first time Friday that Ulisses Soares and his wife, Rosana, “experienced mild cases of COVID-19” over the holidays.
“They were both at home, away from other church leaders,” church spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a news release, “and were able to completely recover before returning to full activity.”
The 62-year-old Brazilian joined fellow apostles Dale G. Renlund and Gerrit W. Gong as the only high-level Latter-day Saint authorities known to have tested positive.
Soares made history in spring 2018, when he became the first Latin American apostle in the Utah-based faith.
“The apostles have different responsibilities than others who serve in the church,” he told The Salt Lake Tribune in June 2018, “but not because we are different or better than others. We all have our weaknesses; what we have in common is our faith.”
Born in São Paulo, Soares earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and economics from the São Paulo Pontifical Catholic University, School of Economic Science and later received a master’s degree in business administration. He and his wife have three children.
The 68-year-old Renlund, a retired cardiologist, and his wife, Ruth, tested positive in early December, the church said, “despite carefully following recommended public health practices.”
The couple were reported to be “feeling well” before finishing their quarantine, Hawkins said Dec. 10. “All tests for other church leaders were negative.”
“These past few weeks have been an added challenge for us as we have experienced the realities of COVID-19,” Renlund wrote on Facebook just before Christmas. “We thank you for your thoughts and prayers in our behalf.”
He made headlines when the church released a prerecorded video in which he urged members to wear masks and practice social distancing to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“Wearing a face covering,” Renlund said, “is a sign of Christlike love for our brothers and sisters.”
In early October, the 67-year-old Gong, the first Asian American apostle, and his wife, Susan, contracted COVID-19. They experienced mild symptoms and later were cleared. The couple oversaw the groundbreaking for Utah’s Taylorsville Temple on Halloween and will be speaking Sunday in a livestreamed worldwide devotional for young adults.
After Gong’s diagnosis, all three members of the faith’s governing First Presidency, along with those in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, were tested. At that time, the tests came back negative.
Many of the church’s highest-ranking authorities, including 96-year-old President Russell M. Nelson, are in their 70s, 80s and even 90s, and would be considered at higher risk of complications from COVID-19.