WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump has called for all churches and places of worship to open as all 50 states have begun easing COVID-19 restrictions.
"I call on all governors to allow churches and places of worship to open right now," Trump said.
Trump deems church essential and threatens to override state governors if they keep them closed.
"Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential but have left out churches and other houses of worship," Trump said. "It's not right, and I am correcting the injustice."
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The president's announcement came as new questions surfaced about hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug Trump touted as a possible 'game-changer' treatment for the COVID-19 virus.
A new study published on Friday by the medical journal The Lancet reveals it's linked to a much higher risk of death in coronavirus patients.
To top that, the FDA has put the onus on healthcare professionals when it comes to hydroxychloroquine, warning against using it outside hospitals or clinical trials because it could cause heart problems.
Despite the warnings, Trump's been taking hydroxychloroquine for nearly two weeks. He said White House physician Dr. Sean Coley determined the 'potential benefit' from the drug 'outweighed the relative risk.'
Medical experts warn there could be a second wave of COVID 19 as states continue to ease social distancing and restrictions this holiday weekend.
"Our healthcare system is at a critical point right now," said Montgomery, AL, Mayor Steven Reed. "Our healthcare system is at a critical point right now. Right now, if you're from Montgomery and you need an ICU bed, you're in trouble."
"Whether it's ember or a flame, we are going to put it out," Trump said. "But we're not closing our country."
Contradicting the commander-in-chief, CDC Director Robert Redfield is not ruling out a second lockdown if the country faces a spike in new cases.
Religious leaders around the country applauded the president's action on social media.
Jentezen Franklin, the senior pastor of Free Chapel, wrote, Thank you Mr President! @realDonaldTrump You always have the back of people of Faith!!! We appreciate this very much. We will use wisdom about reopening but it’s our call not the governments!!!!
Thank you Mr President! @realDonaldTrump you always have the back of people of Faith!!! We appreciate this very much. We will use wisdom about reopening but it’s our call not the governments!!!! https://t.co/vq8s42Wc2m
— Jentezen Franklin (@Jentezen) May 22, 2020
Samuel Rodriguez, the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, wrote, "Churches are essential. The spiritual health of our nation is essential. Churches can reopen safely with all CDC recommendations in place. Thank you POTUS for federally recognizing this truth. #safelyopenchurches"
Churches are essential.
The spiritual health of our nation is essential.
Churches can reopen safely with all CDC recommendations in place.
Thank you POTUS for federally recognizing this truth. #safelyopenchurches
— Samuel Rodriguez (@nhclc) May 22, 2020
The Rev. Johnnie Moore, a current commissioner for the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, also tweeted, "FACT: Virtually every church, synagogue & mosque, etc. has been totally responsible. & WILL BE responsible, deliberate & patient in reopening. But, many couldn’t. Now, they can — at the right time. Thanks @POTUS for putting Governors on notice. Faith is an essential service.