Nov 1, 2022 - News

Utah families honor COVID-19 victims during Día de los Muertos

Illustration of a pattern of sugar skulls and marigolds.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

This Día de los Muertos, many Latino families plan to celebrate their loved ones who died from COVID-19.

Driving the news: The holiday — widely observed in Mexico and by Mexican Americans in the U.S. from Nov. 1-2 — comes as the state emerges out of a deadly pandemic that disproportionately impacted Latino communities.

  • Latinos account for about 15% of the state population, but nearly 18% of reported COVID-19 cases statewide, according to data from the Utah Department of Health and Human Services.

Details: Day of the Dead is steeped in Mesoamerican culture and Catholic tradition and dates back some 3,000 years, according to

  • The holiday is a celebration for family members and friends to remember their loved ones by building ofrendas, or altars, adorned with photos of the deceased and their favorite foods and belongings.
  • It is believed that spirits of the deceased visit the living world during the two-day holiday.

State of play: During the pandemic, digital ofrendas gained popularity because they allowed families to celebrate the holiday while social distancing.

  • As COVID-19 hospitalizations slow down this year, more families plan to visit community altars.

Go deeper: West Jordan resident Rocio Mejia, who hails from the Mexican state of Michoacán, plans to remember her siblings, parents and grandparents.

  • While she hasn't personally lost a relative due to COVID, Mejia said she's met multiple Latino families still reeling from their loved one's fight with the virus.

What they're saying: "It's the largest celebration of life in Mexican culture," Mejia told Axios in Spanish.

  • She added that ofrendas typically feature three levels that represent the past, present and future.

Of note: Mejia and her nonprofit, Una Mano Amiga, are also behind the Day of the Dead festival in Trolley Square slated for Nov. 2.

The latest: The Utah Division of Multicultural Affairs will feature a Day of the Dead display made by Mejia at the Utah Capitol's Hall of Governors from 8am to 6pm today and Wednesday.

  • It will honor the approximate 5,000 Utahns who have died from COVID-19.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Salt Lake City.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Salt Lake City stories

No stories could be found

Salt Lake Citypostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Salt Lake City.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more