Churches to reopen: Trump & Kayleigh McEnany hold White House briefing 5/22/2020

May 22, 2020


On 5/22/2020, during a short briefing at the White House, Trump said, “The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now–for this weekend. If they don’t do it, I will override the governors.”

“Some governors have deemed the liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential,” Trump said. “But have left out churches and other houses of worship. It’s not right. So I’m correcting this injustice and calling houses of worship essential.”

It’s unclear under what authority Trump has to override governors. CBS News’ Ben Tracy asked McEnany, “If a governor does not allow that, does the White House support churches that defy these executive orders?”

“The president has been very clear. He wants to see churches reopen in accordance with these guidelines.”

“The answer is yes?” Tracy asked.

She responded, “I gave you an answer and the president would like to do it in accordance with the CDC guidelines.”

Then Tracy pressed her on what provision of federal law would allow the president to override a governor on the issue.

She replied, “The president will strongly encourage every governor to allow their churches to reopen, and boy, it is interesting to be in a room that desperately wants to seem to see these churches and houses of worship stay closed.”

McEnany also said that it was a First Amendment issue, “the same amendment that gives you all the ability to ask me questions is there to have the freedom of worship, so moms and pastors can go to their churches, go to their places of worship and can celebrate what is a First Amendment right in this country, which is to pray to your God and to practice your faith.”

“I think each one of the leaders in the faith community should be in touch with their local health department so they can communicate to their congregants. Certainly, people that have significant comorbidities, we want them protected. I know those houses of worship want to protect them,” Dr. Birx said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released interim guidelines Friday for communities of faith that acknowledge “millions of Americans embrace worship as an essential part of life” but also warn that “gatherings present a risk for increasing the spread of COVID-19.”

The guidelines encourage the use of cloth face coverings during services, limiting the size of gatherings, social distancing during services and suspending or decreasing choirs and singing in church since “singing may contribute to transmission of COVID-19, possibly through emission of aerosols,” the CDC says.
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