The novel coronavirus has infected more than 100 people in the surroundings of a Baptist congregation in Frankfurt am Main in Germany at a time that in different parts of the world authorities are considering reopening places of worship
Church openings have become a political issue in some countries with some church leaders urging safety and caution before flooding the pews/
U.S. President Donald Trump who has never had a reputation as a staunch church goer said he will force state governor to allow churches to open.
"I call on governors to allow our churches and places of worship to open right now," Trump said in remarks at the White House on May 23. "These are places that hold our society together and keep our people united," he said. "The people are demanding to go to church and synagogue and to their mosque."
Trump said, "Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential, but have left out churches and other houses of worship," the president told reporters at the White House on Friday. "It's not right. So I'm correcting this injustice and calling houses of worship essential."
Across the Atlantic Ocean in Germany, the Frankfurt health authority sees the origin in a church service two weeks ago and the virus was then passed on the Welt newspaper reported.
FRANKFURT BAPTISTS INFECTED
After a service in a Baptist congregation in Frankfurt, at least 107 people were infected with the novel corona virus, the Hesse state Health Minister Kai Klose said.
"This situation shows how important it is for all of us - especially during the easing that is now being made possible again - to remain vigilant and not to become careless," said Klose. "The virus is still there and wants to spread. Our best community protection is to comply with the rules of hygiene, distance and mouth and nose protection".
The report said that most of the infected people were not infected during but after the service at home, said Frankfurt's head of the health department, René Gottschalk, about the cases in his city.
"The vast majority are not particularly ill. As far as we know, only one person is in hospital. The individual cases are being followed up. "We've got it well in hand."
More than 40 of the 107 infected lived in Frankfurt, according to the public health department. 26 infected people lived in Wetteraukreis, the county reported on Sunday, and 17 in Hanau, as reported by the city. According to the ministry, there are also several cases in the Hochtaunuskreis. Possibly other districts are also affected, a ministry spokeswoman said. The exact number is not yet known.
The deputy chairman of the Frankfurt Evangelical Christian Baptist Church, Vladimir Pritzkau, told the Protestant Press Service (epd) that the service had been on May 10.
Pritzkau could not explain the corona outbreak because hygiene and distance rules had been observed but he said due to the outbreak the congregation had cancelled all meetings in the prayer house.
CHURCH GATHERINGS ALLOWED AGAIN
Since May 1, Hesse state has allowed religious gatherings again. However, registration of visitors with their names and addresses is not obligatory - unlike in the catering trade. Participant numbers are not limited, but distance and hygiene rules must be observed and disinfectant dispensers must be set up.
In the United States NPR reported that more than 90 percent of houses of worship have been closed in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and numerous polls have actually shown that a majority of the American public support the restrictions.
Trump's announcement sowed confusion because the U.S. federal government does not have the constitutional right to unilaterally order individual states to reopen businesses, churches or schools.
The Guardian newspaper commented in its report, "But they did seem likely to play well with his support base: Trump won four in five Christian evangelical voters in the 2016 presidential election."
While Trump has taken flak for irresponsible politicking by climbing in on the churches, most church communities are looking to take care of their congregants.
The Christian Post newspaper in the United States launched a sales campaing to prepare churches or business for reopening with up to 20 percent off bulk purchases of KN95 personal protective equipment (PPE) masks.
"Many of our readers are church and business leaders. We understand what it's like to close our doors as a business, and we're definitely looking forward to reopening our office again after the quarantine. But reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic will require increased sanitation and physical distancing (we don't like to use the words "social distancing").
It said that while online places like Amazon can charge more for basic supplies like face masks, the newspaper has negotiated large custom orders for these products and are passing the savings on.
White House cornavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx told Fox News on May 24, "T]here's clear scientific evidence now by all the droplet experiments that happen and that others have done to show that a mask does prevent droplets from reaching others."
The news report said that Trump has been criticized for his reluctance to wear a mask in public, although he was seen wearing one during a tour of a Ford plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan last week.