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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: 455783

Reported Deaths: 6166
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin945441502
Ramsey40698749
Dakota33623354
Anoka31398368
Washington20579237
Stearns18111190
St. Louis14006251
Scott1221199
Wright11811107
Olmsted1083075
Sherburne831270
Carver705639
Clay660684
Rice624774
Kandiyohi558772
Blue Earth549533
Crow Wing490678
Otter Tail464968
Chisago460438
Benton423788
Winona394948
Douglas379766
Nobles374847
Mower374429
Goodhue358163
Polk330760
McLeod328647
Beltrami316148
Morrison314645
Lyon306139
Becker289439
Itasca287843
Isanti286143
Carlton284443
Steele279510
Pine270515
Freeborn254723
Todd233730
Nicollet230538
Brown218634
Mille Lacs215745
Le Sueur214416
Cass210824
Meeker201533
Waseca193316
Wabasha17483
Martin172026
Roseau166517
Hubbard151138
Redwood141327
Houston140314
Dodge13974
Renville138540
Chippewa133232
Cottonwood129118
Fillmore12778
Wadena120818
Rock112012
Aitkin111533
Faribault110116
Sibley11017
Watonwan10698
Pennington101016
Kanabec99818
Pipestone97223
Yellow Medicine95016
Murray9137
Jackson87310
Swift84718
Pope7485
Stevens7078
Marshall70415
Clearwater68814
Lake66415
Lac qui Parle66116
Wilkin63510
Koochiching60810
Lincoln4912
Big Stone4703
Unassigned43968
Grant4388
Norman4268
Mahnomen4167
Kittson37420
Red Lake3204
Traverse2623
Lake of the Woods1981
Cook1160

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 312194

Reported Deaths: 4433
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk46975465
Linn18114279
Scott15900172
Black Hawk14123243
Woodbury13145181
Johnson1231752
Dubuque11651159
Pottawattamie9182115
Dallas910872
Story883538
Cerro Gordo474372
Webster473377
Warren461539
Sioux460457
Clinton459168
Marshall432262
Buena Vista397230
Muscatine396578
Des Moines395543
Plymouth353670
Wapello351798
Jasper333359
Lee326932
Marion310853
Jones275250
Henry269131
Carroll258934
Bremer250448
Crawford235824
Washington224133
Boone223517
Benton213950
Mahaska198637
Jackson195332
Tama190959
Dickinson189229
Kossuth180944
Delaware176536
Clay173021
Wright167624
Fayette166324
Hamilton162530
Buchanan162324
Winneshiek161020
Harrison158762
Hardin157831
Cedar155819
Clayton153949
Butler152324
Page148115
Floyd141936
Cherokee140327
Mills138517
Lyon137933
Poweshiek135424
Hancock132424
Allamakee131530
Iowa128022
Madison124210
Calhoun12379
Grundy122828
Jefferson122425
Winnebago122329
Mitchell117137
Louisa116430
Cass115343
Chickasaw113812
Appanoose113040
Sac112815
Union111723
Emmet111332
Humboldt107819
Shelby106427
Guthrie104624
Franklin103618
Unassigned10210
Palo Alto92611
Montgomery89224
Keokuk86426
Howard85919
Monroe82620
Clarke8199
Pocahontas78711
Ida76430
Davis70421
Adair69720
Greene6977
Monona68418
Lucas66910
Osceola65011
Worth6224
Taylor6009
Fremont5276
Van Buren50515
Decatur4994
Ringgold45511
Audubon4258
Wayne42021
Adams3023
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