By Arnie Leshin
Each state in the USA is different, but Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, offers a reminder that social distancing recommendations would be with us through the summer to really ensure that we protect each other as we move through these phases.
In the U.S., where President Donald Trump has repeatedly pushed to reopen the country for business and a split has opened among he states along often partisan lines, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, told Fox News that with hospitalizations dropping in his state, he will reopen churches and restaurant dining, with social distancing guidelines in place.
Said Stitt: “We believe it’s the time to have a measured reopening.”
But in Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, told ABC that her state is not ready and needs more robot testing, community tracing, and a plan for isolating people who get sick with COVID-19.
“We’ve got to be nimble,” she said, “and we have to follow the science and be really smart about how we reengage because no no one, even if you’re a protester or you are the sitting governor or you are on the other side of the issue. we know that no one wants wants a second wave.”
In Montana, some churchgoers returned to Sunday services as a general stay-at-home order expired. At Christ the King Lutheran Church in Billings, every other pew was kept empty. And roughly 100 people streamed into St. Anthony Catholic Church in Laurel, where ushers tried to keep families separate from one another and hand sanitizer was available.
“It’s like being given life again,” said church member Jack Auzqui of Billings, and he added that being unable to attend for the last month had been spiritually difficultly for him and his wife.
Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, in announcing the opening of several businesses last week, reiterated religious services were allowed as long as strict social distancing protocols were followed. But leaders of various denominations said they would keep their buildings shuttered for now.
Church services are also allowed in Tennessee, where about 40 people attended a service at Middle Valley Church of God in Hixson. Churchgoer Donna Millsaps told theChattanooga Times-Free Press that masks and social distancing made her feel safe.
While governors in states like New York and Michigan are keeping stay-at-home restrictions in place until at least mid-May, their counterparts in places such as Georgia, Oklahoma, and Alaska are allowing certain businesses to reopen. And then there’s Montana, where places began holding in-person services each Sunday, and others like Jack Auzqui said this is along the lines of a blessing.
The Empire State though is a pandemic mess from the city and the rest of the state, and does need to so some praying. But its governor Andrew Cuomo, after returning ventilators and beds that he said were not needed, finds new ways to voice his complaints every day while his state is struggling with a record number of COVID-19 positives and deaths.
On the other side of the Atlantic, as Great Britain’s prime minister returns to work, he faces calls for more clarity on when his government will ease the lock down that is now set to run until at least May 7.
Other European nations are further along in relaxing their restrictions. Germany allowed nonessential and other shops to open Friday, and Denmark has reopened schools for children up to fifth grade. In China, mostly all major construction projects have resumed as authorities push to restart factory production and other economic activity after an almost 3-month lock down.
And in the United States of America, church bells are ringing. Not everywhere, but in enough places to make chimes of happiness and joy.
Many have said that they feel lonely and anxious during pandemic, and others said they sometimes feel hopeless within seven days of each week. But churchgoers aren’t complaining, they feel good there despite the social distancing and other restrictions.