Trump has threatened to “get over” the governors if their states have not followed the new federal recommendations, but he has no authority to do so. Recommendations are voluntary.
“Some governors considered liquor stores and abortion clinics essential, but they left our churches and houses of worship. It’s not fair. So I’m correcting this injustice and calling the houses of worship essential,” Trump said. during his announcement in the White House.
The president said that, under his direction, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will provide guidance.
Trump said he called on governors to “allow churches and places of worship to open at this time.”
“If there is any question, they will have to call me, but they will not be successful in that call,” added Trump.
“Governors need to do the right thing and allow these vitally important places of faith to open right now, this weekend. If they don’t, I will replace the governors,” he continued.
Later in the briefing, White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany stressed that the reopening was at the discretion of governors and religious leaders.
“I think each of the leaders of the faith community should be in contact with their local health department so that they can communicate with their congregates. Certainly people who have significant comorbidities, we want them protected. I know those houses of worship want to protect them, “Birx said. “Maybe they can’t go this week if there is a high number of Covid cases. Maybe they wait another week. But there is a way for social distance … in places of worship.”
McEnany, when asked about Birx’s answer, said that the decision to reopen on the basis of the new federal guide is “up to the governors”.
McEnany would not explain which authority Trump would use to “override” governors’ decisions to keep places of worship closed.
A senior administration official told CNN that the lead had initially been delayed because some officials believed the proposals were too detailed and that they would be impossible for churches and others to reach. There was also talk of not providing any guidance to religious services, but Trump had conversations with CDC officials and urged them to release something.
The White House coronavirus task force finalized the guide during a meeting on Thursday, the source said.
The president referred to conversations with CDC officials on Thursday, telling attendees and the press in a listening session with African Americans, “I said, ‘You’d better put him out.'”
“Today I spoke to the Church CDC. We have to open our churches. We have to open our country,” he said.
While Trump has lobbied localities and states to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, he has given special weight to the reopening of places of worship.
Before Easter Sunday, he advised faith leaders to wait for the country to “heal” the coronavirus pandemic before holding services in person.
But more recently, the President has complained that digital religious services are not the same as those in person.
“People want to be in their churches. It is wonderful to sit at home and watch something on a laptop, but it can never be the same as being in a church and being with your friends. And they want to have it open, and I think it will happen .. very soon, “said Trump during Thursday’s listening session.
Large gatherings, such as those in houses of worship, have been linked to coronavirus groups. This month, two churches in Northern California have linked the spread of coronavirus among church members and clergy to Mother’s Day services. A Texas church recently wiped out its masses after the death of one of its priests and five others later tested positive for coronavirus.
This story was updated with further developments on Friday.