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For first time in history, all 50 US states are under a disaster declaration

Published on April 12, 2020 6:46 AM
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The number of coronavirus cases in the US passed 556,000 on Sunday, a day when millions of Americans were forced to observe the Easter holiday in the shadow of the pandemic.

It was an Easter Sunday like none other. Many churches marked the holiday in a way that honored social distancing efforts, like streaming services online or holding worship at drive-in theaters, congregants huddled in their cars.

But some planned to gather anyway, putting public health restrictions on a collision course with religious institutions.

The country has recorded at least 22,073 deaths and 556,044 cases so far during the pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. All 50 states are under a federal disaster declaration for the first time in US history.

On Saturday night, the Justice Department said it expects to take action this week against regulations on religious institutions, as states and local governments try to curtail gatherings.

Various courts are already earing cases about the regulations, but the department said it may file lawsuits alongside churches.

In New Mexico, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced the state amended a public health order banning mass gatherings to include houses of worship.
Rev. Jo-Ann Murphy, assistant rector of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, livestreams a Good Friday Mass from her backyard during the coronavirus pandemic.

"The risk is simply too great," the governor said on Twitter Saturday. She said she was "so grateful for the support & cooperation from the vast majority of religious leaders of all faiths who have already made the ...