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Fox News contributor Leslie Marshall and The Federalist publisher Ben Domenech took opposing sides Friday on “Special Report” in response to President Trump’s “order” that governors open houses of worship during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The president’s order today is meant to send a message to the states about the essential nature of religious services,” Domenech said on the All-Star panel. “His comment … about overruling the governors is something that, I think it could be tested in a couple of instances, but is more likely to come in the form of DOJ [Justice Department] lawsuits, as we’ve seen in other cases against those governors who don’t allow these houses of worship to open.”
Trump on Friday announced that new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance will classify houses of worship as “essential,” as he called on governors to allow them to open “right now” after being closed during coronavirus lockdowns.
“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 at a White House briefing. “If they don’t do it, I will override the governors.”
Marshall disagreed with the president’s decision, noting problems in her home state of California and citing an instance in Arkansas in which a coronavirus outbreak trace back to church gatherings.
“We have here in California at least three churches, one of which had over 70 people, 73 to be exact [contract COVID-19]. There are three deaths as a result. But the problem with that is it goes further than just these houses of worship because these people go out into the community,” Marshall said.
“If you look at Arkansas, where you have 38 percent of one, one church’s population [infected] … then they have found through tracing [that] 26 additional people were infected. One died in the community, three died in the church. This is something governors have to look at because every state is on a different track with regard to social distancing.”
Marshall said that governors should make the decision that’s best for their state and people should make the best of the situation.
“Even though worshipping is essential, God is everywhere,” Marshall added. “So let’s pray wherever we can until we’re safe to go inside those churches, mosques and synagogues.”