President Trump deems houses of worship essential, calls for them to reopen this weekend

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President Trump speaks to the press after meeting with Republican Senators in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill, May 19, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP/ABC News) — President Donald Trump says he has deemed churches and other houses of worship “essential” and called on governors to allow them to reopen this weekend despite the threat of the coronavirus.

He says: “Today I’m identifying houses of worship – churches, synagogues and mosques — as essential places that provide essential services.”

Trump made the announcement during a hastily-arranged press conference Friday at the White House. He said if governors don’t abide by his request, he will “override” them, though it’s unclear what authority he has to do so.

Trump told reporters Thursday that he was urging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue guidance specific to places of worship as soon as possible.

“I just got off the phone with CDC and talked about churches. I said I want the churches to open, the people want the churches to open, and I think you’ll have something come down very soon, from CDC, we want to get our churches back,” Trump said at a roundtable with African American community leaders on his trip to Michigan.

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