Trump demands churches, synagogues and mosques reopen ‘right now’ – as it happened – The Guardian

A report from our west coast office, on California governor Gavin Newsom’s reopening plans in light of Donald Trump’s demand to open houses of worship:

California has been approaching plans to reopen the state gingerly, but pressure is mounting as business owners, faith leaders and some county officials call on the governor to accelerate.

Gavin Newsom.
Gavin Newsom. Photograph: Rich Pedroncelli/AP

On Friday, speaking from a veteran’s home in Napa county, one that operated through a deadly influenza epidemic a century ago, Gavin Newsom said California was moving quickly but with diligence. By day’s end, he said, he expects to have approved plans for 45 of 58 counties to move further into phases of reopening.

Many sectors, including manufacturing, retail and restaurants have already reopened to various degrees. Soon, every sector will be given the green light, provided it can make good on safety protocols the new reality demands.

Churches and houses of worship are sure to remain a point of tension. Newsom said he and his team have been working with faith leaders to craft plans to welcome back parishioners, depending on church size and other factors.

But with California just days away from releasing that guidance, Trump muddied the water, deeming houses of worship “essential” and threatening to “override” governors who don’t approve.

This week, more than 1,200 pastors in California said they would resume in-person services this month in defiance of Newsom’s stay-at-home order.

Even as case rates statewide appear to have stabilized, hospitals in Imperial county, in southern California, are stretching resources to cope with a surge in cases.

Last week, Newsom said, the county was using more than 70% of its ventilators. Plans are in motion to dispatch a 125-bed field hospital to help alleviate pressure, Newsom said.

Newsom appeared unmoved by a legal challenge to the state’s plan to move forward with mail-in ballots for the November election.

“We’re on firm legal ground. Vote by mail is not novel in the state of California, nor was it in the recent special election” said Newsom.

“Public health is a nonpartisan issue”.