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In Iowa, VP Pence says lack of religious services has been 'burden'

Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a discussion with local faith leaders to encourage them to resume in-person church services in a responsible fashion in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Friday, May 8, 2020, in Urbandale, Iowa. (AP Photo)

Vice President Pence told a group of faith leaders in Iowa of the “burden” of being absent from church and expressed the importance of resuming religious services that have largely been halted as officials sought to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Posted: May 8, 2020 2:55 PM
Updated: May 8, 2020 4:22 PM

URBANDALE, Iowa (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence spoke Friday to a group of faith leaders in Iowa about the importance of resuming religious services, saying the cancellations in the name of slowing the spread of the coronavirus have “been a burden” for congregants.

Pence spoke with the religious leaders and Republican officials during a brief visit to the Des Moines area. He was set to speak later in the day with agricultural and food company executives.

"It's been a source of heartache for people across the country," Pence told about a dozen people at the Church of the Way Presbyterian church in the Des Moines suburb of Urbandale.

Pence told the group that continued efforts to hold services online and in other ways “made incalculable difference in our nation seeing our way through these troubled times.”

Iowa is among many states where restrictions on in-person services are starting to ease as stay-home orders imposed to stop the virus are being gradually ended.

Gov. Kim Reynolds, who joined both of the state's Republican senators at the event, has instituted new rules that allowed services to resume with restrictions if they maintain social distancing and practice thorough sanitary cleaning.

At Friday's event, some religious leaders expressed hesitation at resuming large gatherings, while others said they would begin holding services in the coming weeks.

“We are pretty much in a position of uniformly believing that it’s too early to return to personal worship. It’s inadvisable at the moment particularly with rising case counts in communities where we are across the state,” said David Kaufman, rabbi of Temple B’nai Jeshurun in Des Moines.

The Rev. Terry Amann, of Church of the Way, said his church will resume services May 17 with chairs arranged so families can sit together but avoiding the temptation to shake hands or offer hugs. He said hand sanitizer will be available.

“These are challenges but we’ll be able to do it," Amann said. “We’re excited to get back together as brothers and sisters in Christ.”

The discussion of reopening in-person church services comes as a new poll by The University of Chicago Divinity School and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows just 9% of Americans think in-person religious services should be permitted without restrictions, while 42% think they should be allowed with restrictions and 48% think they should not be allowed at all.

Among Americans who identify with a religion, 45% say in-person services shouldn’t be allowed.

Pence left the meeting to meet with agriculture and food supply leaders. Iowa leads the nation in egg and pork production and is a top grower of corn and soybeans.

Meatpacking is among the state's biggest employers, and companies have been working to restart operations after closing them because hundreds of their workers became sick with the coronavirus.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 560450

Reported Deaths: 7122
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1167211690
Ramsey48313858
Dakota42928423
Anoka38965419
Washington25195274
Stearns21198219
St. Louis16926298
Scott16187118
Wright14964128
Olmsted1282897
Sherburne1072580
Carver993045
Clay787390
Rice7701102
Blue Earth704240
Kandiyohi631381
Crow Wing624286
Chisago554750
Otter Tail547673
Benton536697
Mower453032
Goodhue448572
Douglas446071
Winona439549
Nobles401948
Morrison397559
McLeod397255
Isanti382559
Itasca379053
Beltrami375457
Polk367967
Steele366214
Becker359448
Lyon349748
Carlton331152
Freeborn329629
Pine313821
Nicollet310343
Brown295639
Mille Lacs285450
Le Sueur273822
Todd270030
Cass252526
Meeker239137
Waseca231921
Martin215230
Wabasha20003
Roseau198319
Hubbard174441
Renville172943
Dodge17253
Redwood166735
Houston162714
Cottonwood158221
Fillmore15229
Pennington151519
Chippewa147537
Wadena145821
Faribault145519
Sibley137110
Kanabec133622
Aitkin129436
Watonwan12609
Rock123419
Jackson118210
Yellow Medicine111319
Pipestone110526
Pope10386
Murray10319
Swift100418
Marshall85817
Stevens83310
Lake78819
Clearwater78514
Koochiching77813
Wilkin77312
Lac qui Parle73922
Big Stone5764
Lincoln5613
Grant5528
Norman5229
Mahnomen5178
Unassigned48678
Kittson46822
Red Lake3877
Traverse3625
Lake of the Woods3073
Cook1480

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 359450

Reported Deaths: 5839
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk56274608
Linn20392330
Scott19245236
Black Hawk15611306
Woodbury14960221
Johnson1415481
Dubuque13196203
Dallas1094596
Pottawattamie10804162
Story1035747
Warren559186
Clinton541791
Cerro Gordo524987
Webster508792
Sioux507873
Marshall477575
Muscatine463297
Des Moines443165
Wapello4255121
Buena Vista422140
Jasper408470
Plymouth398779
Lee369255
Marion355775
Jones293455
Henry286837
Carroll280152
Bremer279860
Crawford262840
Boone259633
Benton251155
Washington249850
Dickinson243743
Mahaska225750
Jackson218942
Kossuth213763
Clay212325
Tama206971
Delaware204539
Winneshiek194933
Page190721
Buchanan189031
Cedar185023
Fayette183541
Hardin181942
Wright180635
Hamilton178449
Harrison176673
Clayton167355
Butler162734
Mills159020
Cherokee157738
Floyd156242
Lyon155341
Madison154819
Poweshiek153233
Allamakee149351
Iowa146224
Hancock144234
Winnebago136931
Grundy135532
Cass135154
Calhoun133411
Jefferson131235
Emmet129940
Shelby129037
Sac128419
Louisa127349
Appanoose126747
Mitchell125441
Union123332
Chickasaw122715
Guthrie118529
Humboldt118426
Franklin113121
Palo Alto111323
Howard102922
Montgomery101537
Unassigned10040
Clarke98524
Keokuk95031
Monroe94528
Ida90133
Adair84832
Pocahontas84121
Monona81430
Davis79924
Osceola77116
Greene76710
Lucas75723
Worth7138
Taylor65412
Fremont6169
Decatur5919
Van Buren55518
Ringgold53624
Wayne52123
Audubon4969
Adams3314
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