President Trump on Friday announced that new Centers for Disease Control guidance will classify houses of worship as “essential,” as he called on governors to allow them to open “right now” after being closed during the coronavirus lockdowns.
Trump announced the policy for churches, synagogues and mosques, during a short briefing at the White House.
“The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now–for this weekend,” Trump said. “If they don’t do it, I will override the governors.”
“In America, we need more prayer not less,” Trump said.
Curious how he thinks he has any authority to do this.
First he thinks he’s in charge, and then he says it’s the Governors, then it’s him , then it’s the Governors. Which is it? Does he not understand Federalism?
I’m not going back to Mass anytime soon. My wife and I are 60, she’s at risk, so … I’d love to go back, but, frankly, since 35% of the people who are infected are asymptomatic, I really don’t think it’s a good idea to get hundreds of people in a room for an hour. My parish seats 800 - that’s 400 people at 50% capacity. In that 400 there could be 10 or 20 infected asymptomatic people. That’s crazy.
He’s just trying to get the religious people who are slipping away from him back on his side. It’s immaterial whether he actually has ‘the power’ or intends to use it. He doesn’t so much govern as telegraph.
I think it’s crazy, too. A church here in California decided to hold a service on Mother’s Day. About 180 attended. According to one news article:
It was a popular service after having been unable to gather for so long. Members were shoulder to shoulder. According to photos taken during the Mother’s Day service (that no longer appear on the church Facebook page) masks and social distancing were not observed."
The next day, one of the members who attended the service tested positive for coronavirus and the local health department had to contact all the
other people who had attended and order them to self quarantine for 14 days.
One of the reasons that church services are a problem is not only because people are crowded together, but also because they often have people singing and singing is a potent spreader of airborne viruses like coronavirus. There was a recent article in CNN about how public health officials in Skagit County Washington have reconstructed how one person at a single choir practice session with COVID-19 caused an outbreak that left 52 of 61 people infected with the virus back at the beginning of March:
After interviewing everyone involved in the March 10 choir practice, and determining precisely how the chairs had been arranged and where each choir member had been sitting, standing and later mingling, the investigators determined that one person with mild respiratory symptoms (and who later tested positive for Covid-19) had likely triggered the outbreak.
They found that, at the start of the practice, all 61 members sang together in a room for 40 minutes. Then they split into two groups in two rooms for an additional 50 minutes. Next came a 15-minute break, where the whole group chatted and snacked on cookies and oranges.
Finally, the large group returned to their seats in the main room and practiced for another 45 minutes before re-stacking their chairs and leaving.
Within the next five days, 49 people developed symptoms of Covid-19. The early development of symptoms was remarkable (at a median of 3 days versus 5 days in most other reports) and may relate to the intensity of the exposure. Three additional cases developed symptoms over the next week.
According to the report, the choir members risked infection when moving and stacking the chairs, sharing snacks and touching common areas.
But the most likely way the virus spread was through singing and chatting while sitting close together."
[President Trump’s] move came as health officials have found that worship gatherings could be particularly susceptible to viral spread. And some churches that recently reopened were forced to close again after discovering new infections, including Catoosa Baptist Tabernacle in Ringgold, Ga., and Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Houston.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report this week about an outbreak in March at a rural Arkansas church. Of the 92 people who attended the church between March 6 and March 11, the report said, 35 tested positive and three died. And investigators found that another 26 other people who were in contact with the people who attended church events later tested positive, and one died.