As President Donald Trump sides with churches that want to reopen faster than their state’s safety guidelines will allow, new Covid-19 virus outbreaks associated with in-person religious services are being reported worldwide.
However, in-person religious services have been linked to a number of new Covid-19 outbreaks in recent weeks around the world, including cases that proved fatal.
More than 40 people who attended a church service in Frankfurt, Germany several weeks ago have since tested positive for Covid-19, local officials said Saturday.
A church in rural Arkansas has been connected to a Covid-19 cluster by the Centers For Disease Control, who reported this week that 35 people, or nearly 40% of attendees over about a week in early March, tested positive for Covid-19, with three dying from the virus.
A Virginia pastor who held church services throughout March against the advice of health officials—and told congregants he would continue “unless I’m in jail or the hospital”—died from Covid-19 in April.
Churches are the latest battleground for the push and pull between proponents of continuing social distancing to curb Covid-19 and those in support of reopening society. Trump said reopening churches would help “normalize” life in the U.S. on Thursday, adding that “the churches are not being treated with respect by a lot of the Democrat governors.” Florida megachurch leader Rodney Howard-Browne was arrested in March for continuing to hold church services in violation of a countywide order.