President Donald Trump is stuck in a no-win situation. As November approaches, he desperately needs evangelical and right-wing churches to mobilize and get him reelected. However, these churches have also become hotbeds for coronavirus outbreaks.
Politico wrote Sunday that when Trump ordered all churches reopen because they are “essential,” he made them into super-spreaders of the COVID-19.
“Clusters of Covid-19 cases are surfacing in counties across the U.S. where in-person religious services have resumed, triggering questions about whether his administration should reassess its campaign to treat houses of worship the same as other essential businesses, or leave them alone and risk additional transmission of the deadly coronavirus — including in communities that are largely supportive of the president,” said Politico.
There was an outbreak at a Pentecostal church in Oregon where members came back to worship over Memorial Day weekend. A whopping 258 cases of COVID-19 can now be traced back to the church.
Six different health departments across West Virginia have linked a coronavirus outbreak to churches, one of which had 34 church members test positive.
In Texas, Saturday marked their 16th day in a row of setting records of hospitalizations for the coronavirus. Health officials there have numerous races back to church-related exposure.
It might be one of the reasons that Vice President Mike Pence attended a megachurch service in Texas on Sunday wearing his mask most of the time. He did remove it when he spoke to the audience.
Wearing a mask has somehow become a sign of solidarity to the Republican Party. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick proclaimed on Fox News that the elderly should be willing to put their children and their grandchildren first, sacrifice themselves, and continue mass reopening even if it means they’ll die. Trump has said he doesn’t need a mask because he’s tested so frequently.
“A senior administration official briefed on the discussions said members of the White House coronavirus task force began expressing serious concerns this week about rising infection rates in a dozen states, particularly after Florida reported record-breaking cases last Wednesday — leading to the task force’s first briefing in two months on Friday,” reported Politico. “But the same official said the task force does not consider churches to be super-spreaders, or hotspots for Covid-19 transmission, at this time.”
Trump has said that the only reason cases are increasing is because testing is also increasing. It isn’t accurate, but it’s an excuse Trump is trying to use.
“Now Trump is grappling with the fallout — unforeseen or not — of his aggressive push to reopen churches at a time when he can’t afford to agitate his religious supporters,” Politico said. “Polls conducted since the coronavirus pandemic began have shown a steady decline in his favorability rating among white Catholics and white evangelicals, demographics that helped carry him to victory in 2016 and whose backing he will need to defeat Joe Biden, his expected Democratic challenger, this fall.”
The United States has become one of the biggest hotspots in the world for the coronavirus and countries are lining up to block Americans from traveling and possibly re-infecting their country.
“Despite the outbreaks occurring in churches and elsewhere, the president’s response lately has been to double down on his effort to jumpstart the U.S. economy and reopen houses of worship, restaurants, manufacturing facilities and retail suppliers,” Politico noted.
Trump-loving pastor Robert Jeffress even published a pamphlet asking whether the coronavirus could be “a judgment from God” and mocked stay-at-home orders so that he could hold a big visit he was planning to sell his book at a Dallas megachurch.
Now Jeffress is watching more parishioners contract the virus and urging people to wear masks in houses of worship. Trump still refused to do it while at a megachurch in Arizona this week. He even went so far as to promise the crowd that the U.S. was getting close to “the end of the pandemic.”