Trump to governors: Open houses of worship 'right now'

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Trump criticized governors for allowing businesses such as liquor stores and abortion clinics to remain open while forcing churches to close.

"Today I'm identifying houses of worship - churches, synagogues and mosques - as essential places that provide essential services", he said.

"It is safe to reopen your churches if you do so in accordance with the guidelines", she said, referring to new tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Reopening faith communities, let alone reopening any other faith institutions, is unsafe" given the ongoing threat of spreading illness, said Maggie Siddiqi, director of the faith initiative at the liberal Center for American Progress. The White House didn't immediately respond to questions from the pool reporter traveling with the president. In Minnesota, after Democratic Gov. Tim Walz this week declined to lift restrictions on churches, Roman Catholic and some Lutheran leaders said they would defy his ban and resume worship services. It has the input of lawyers with experience in religious freedom cases.

But she also warned that Washington and Virginia had high positive test rates as the United States started its Memorial Day long weekend.

He also said houses of worship could open safely while practicing social distancing and CDC health guidance.

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The US president declined to wear a mask in front of cameras at a Ford plant, which has been making ventilators, although he did put one on for a private part of the tour.

Trump issued a warning to state governors who refuse his appeal but did not say under what authority he would act to force the reopening of religious facilities.

Tension over when and how to reopen houses of worship has varied depending on the state, as different areas set their own pace for easing pandemic stay-at-home orders. The conversation focused on the reopening of churches and what federal guidance on that might look like. "It's not right. So I'm correcting this injustice and calling houses of worship essential". In March, Trump told reporters he hoped for churches to be full on Easter Sunday, McClatchy News reported.

On Thursday, however, Trump spoke several other times of his desire to see churches open again soon.

Trump jokingly added, "Honestly I think I look better in a mask". "And they [the CDC] are doing it and they're going to be issuing something today or tomorrow on churches". "We've got a good plan". Meanwhile, public health officials warn that the US coronavirus death toll is likely higher than the official tally of roughly 95,000, and that reopening the country too soon could backfire, risking future spikes in cases, more fatalities and even further economic downturn.

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