Hol­i­day sees parts of US stir to life

Other ar­eas re­main shut as Trump urges states to re­open

Daily Southtown (Sunday) - - NATION & WORLD - By David Crary, Geir Moulson and Angela Charlton

NEW YORK — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump vis­ited one of his golf cour­ses Satur­day at the start of the Me­mo­rial Day week­end as he urged U.S. states to re­open af­ter coro­n­avirus-re­lated lock­downs. Yet many Amer­i­cans re­mained cau­tious as the num­ber of con­firmed cases na­tion­wide passed 1.6 mil­lion.

In Cal­i­for­nia, where many busi­nesses and recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties are re­open­ing, of­fi­cials in Los An­ge­les County said they would main­tain tight re­stric­tions un­til July 4. Some re­li­gious lead­ers took is­sue with Trump’s dec­la­ra­tion that houses of wor­ship are “es­sen­tial” and should re­sume in-per­son ser­vices this week­end.

“Be­ing at the epi­cen­ter of this pan­demic and in or­der to pro­tect our flock, we ad­vise that con­gre­ga­tions re­main closed un­til more ac­cu­rate and uni­form in­for­ma­tion is pro­vided,” said Bishop Paul Egen­steiner, who over­sees the Evan­gel­i­cal Lutheran Church in Amer­ica’s con­gre­ga­tions in the hard-hit New York City re­gion.

Rain damp­ened the start of the hol­i­day week­end in the north­east­ern U.S., where newly re­opened beaches had been ex­pected to at­tract throngs of peo­ple and test the ef­fec­tive­ness of so­cial dis­tanc­ing rules. At Or­chard Beach in the Bronx, which was crowded a week­end ear­lier, park­ing lots were mostly empty.

Farther south, Trump vis­ited one of his private golf clubs for the first time dur­ing the pan­demic — the Trump Na­tional Golf Club in Vir­ginia. He has been push­ing for state and lo­cal lead­ers to fully re­open af­ter months af­ter clo­sures and tight re­stric­tions.

Parts of New Or­leans were stir­ring back to life, with some restau­rants and busi­nesses open­ing their doors for the first time in more than two months. Some re­mained closed, es­pe­cially in the French Quar­ter, which re­lies largely on tourist dol­lars.

At least a few out-oftown­ers trick­led in. Greer Falls of Au­gusta, Ge­or­gia, wore a mask as he en­tered the Royal House restau­rant for lunch. Af­ter weeks at home, he said he was ready for a change of scenery and didn’t want to miss a birthday cel­e­bra­tion with friends he’s known for decades.

Overseas, there was mixed news. New coro­n­avirus cases in China fell to zero Satur­day for the first time since the start of the out­break but surged in In­dia and over­whelmed hos­pi­tals across Latin Amer­ica.

Many gov­ern­ments are eas­ing re­stric­tions as they face a po­lit­i­cal back­lash and his­toric re­ces­sions brought on by the bat­tle against the virus. In just a few months, the pan­demic has killed at least 340,000 peo­ple world­wide and in­fected more than 5.2 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to a tally by Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity. More than 96,000 peo­ple have died of COVID-19 in the United States.

Turkey, which has recorded over 155,000 in­fec­tions, im­posed its tough­est lock­down mea­sures yet start­ing Satur­day for the Eid al-Fitr hol­i­day mark­ing the end of Ra­madan, and Ye­men’s Houthi rebels urged be­liev­ers to use masks and stay in­side, as au­thor­i­ties try to con­tain in­fec­tions at a time usu­ally marked by days of multi­gen­er­a­tional feast­ing and col­lec­tive prayer.

In Ger­many, which has drawn praise for its han­dling of the virus, seven peo­ple ap­pear to have been in­fected at a restau­rant in the north­west of the coun­try. It would be the first known such case since restau­rants started re­open­ing two weeks ago.

And in Frank­furt, more than 40 peo­ple tested pos­i­tive af­ter a church ser­vice of the Evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tian Bap­tist con­gre­ga­tion May 10. The city’s health of­fice said one is hos­pi­tal­ized.

A church leader said the com­mu­nity had com­plied with all hy­giene rules but has can­celed all gath­er­ings and is now hold­ing ser­vices on­line. Au­thor­i­ties in nearby Hanau called off Mus­lim prayers planned for a sta­dium Sunday as a pre­cau­tion.

Re­li­gious events helped spread the virus early in the pan­demic; re­sum­ing gath­er­ings of the faith­ful is an es­pe­cially thorny is­sue.

Mind­ful of evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tians who are key to his base of sup­port ahead of Novem­ber’s elec­tion, Trump on Fri­day la­beled houses of wor­ship as “es­sen­tial” and urged gover­nors to let them re­open this week­end. How­ever, lead­ers of many de­nom­i­na­tions have said they plan to move grad­u­ally and cau­tiously.

France al­lowed in-per­son ser­vices to re­sume start­ing Satur­day af­ter a le­gal challenge to the gov­ern­ment’s ban on gath­er­ings in places of wor­ship.

One of the world’s ma­jor pil­grim­age sites is re­open­ing Sunday: the Church of the Holy Sep­ul­cher in Jerusalem, built on the site where Chris­tians be­lieve Je­sus was cru­ci­fied, buried and res­ur­rected.

Latin Amer­ica is the lat­est epi­cen­ter of the virus, and ex­perts note the lim­its of gov­ern­ment ac­tion in a re­gion where mil­lions have in­for­mal jobs and many po­lice forces are un­able to en­force re­stric­tions.

Brazil and Mexico re­ported record num­bers of in­fec­tions and deaths al­most daily last week, fu­el­ing crit­i­cism of their pres­i­dents for lim­ited lock­downs. But in­fec­tions also rose and in­ten­sive care units were swamped in Peru, Chile and Ecuador, all coun­tries lauded for im­pos­ing early and ag­gres­sive busi­ness shut­downs and quar­an­tines.

MATT BORN/THE STAR-NEWS

Peo­ple fish off the side of Kure Beach Pier on Satur­day in Kure Beach, N.C. The town lifted most beach re­stric­tions May 15.

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