Churches and religious facilities have been exempt from some states' stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic, creating scenes that have made experts worry these gatherings could help spread the virus. When one woman was asked why she felt comfortable going to church, she told CNN, "I'm covered in Jesus' blood." Click here to watch the video.
"I wouldn't be anywhere else," a woman driving to Solid Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio, told CNN reporter Carry Tuchman. "Aren't you concerned you can infect other people if you get sick inside?" Tuchman asked. "No... I'm covered in Jesus' blood," the woman replied. "I'm covered in Jesus' blood." The woman also said she has visited several stores a day during the pandemic.
Solid Rock Church has openly defied Monroe Mayor Jason Frentzel's pleas to stop holding in-person services, as Ohio is one of the states where religious gatherings have continued to be allowed. Health commissioner Jennifer Bailer told Local12 the church's attorney told her they are practicing social distancing and have been "thoroughly" cleaning the building before and after services.
"We are often asked many times a day why we have not shut them down," Bailer explained. "It's because the governor gave churches an exemption. We would prefer as public health authorities for them not to meet in such large numbers."
At least 11 of the 15 states with the highest percentage of at-risk individuals are not keeping people from religious gatherings as of Thursday, CNBC reported. The individuals most at-risk are those 65 or older or with underlying medical conditions.
CNBC noted that some orders in other states are not completely clear. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed orders that close nonessential businesses, but did not include a specific list of what constitutes a "nonessential business." Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's order bars "all public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring among persons not part of a single household," not noted places of worship will not be subject to penalty.
In Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshar signed an executive order on March 19 that banned "mass gatherings," which included "faith-based" events. A revival in mid-March has been blamed for helping spread the coronavirus in the state, one church said it was the target of "unjust criticism" for the event, reports the Courier-Journal.
The U.S. has more reported coronavirus cases than anywhere else in the world, with more than 331,000 confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University. As of Sunday, more than 9,400 deaths have been reported.
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