The United States has the world’s highest number of known cases of Covid-19, the flu-like respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus. More than 306,000 people have tested positive in the United States and over 8,300 have died.
But that isn’t stopping a church in a suburb of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, from celebrating the Palm Sunday this weekend.
Despite warnings from local and state officials, Solid Rock had been holding its 1,000-strong gatherings in person, and plans keep the church open on Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week in Christian churches.
“We’re defying the rules because the commandment of God is to spread the Gospel,” Louisiana pastor Tony Spell said on Saturday.
Louisiana has become a US hot spot for the virus, and reported a jump in deaths to 409 on Saturday.
Millions of American Christians will observe Palm Sunday at home this weekend, as the vast majority of US churches have moved services online to comply with stay-at-home rules.
But, like Solid Rock, pockets of churches from Florida to Texas and across to California are keeping their doors open and inviting worshippers to attend services this weekend.
“Satan’s trying to keep us apart, he’s trying to keep us from worshipping together. But we’re not going to let him win,” Kelly Burton, pastor at Lone Star Baptist Church in Lone Star, Texas, wrote in a post on Facebook.
President Donald Trump told Americans to brace for a big spike in coronavirus fatalities in the coming days, as the country faces what he called the toughest two weeks of the pandemic.
“There’s going to be a lot of death,” Trump said at a briefing with reporters on Saturday.
White House medical experts have forecast that between 1,00,000 to 2,40,000 Americans could be killed in the pandemic, even if sweeping orders to stay home are followed.
In the grimmest day yet for the US state hit hardest by the pandemic, coronavirus-related illnesses killed 630 people in the last 24 hours in New York state, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Saturday.