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WATCH: President Trump demands America’s houses of worship be allowed to reopen

If governors don’t abide by his request, the president plans will “override" them

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Friday said 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.

“Today I’m identifying houses of worship — churches, synagogues and mosques — as essential places that provide essential services," Trump said during a hastily arranged press conference Friday. 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.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had prepared reopening guidelines for churches and other houses of worship weeks ago, but the White House had refused to release them until Thursday when Trump abruptly changed course.

“I said ‘You better put it out.’ And they’re doing it,” Trump said Thursday at a Ford Motor Co. plant repurposed to make ventilators in Michigan. “And they’re going to be issuing something today or tomorrow on churches. We got to get our churches open.”