As churches have made the hard choice of suspending services, churchgoing Americans should continue to send their donations as ministries are playing a vital role in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, Vice President Mike Pence said at a White House press briefing Saturday.
Americans are responding to the novel coronavirus pandemic with “common sense, compassion and generosity,” Pence said and praised religious leaders and faith communities for their continued service.
“Making the hard choice to suspend services, to have online services, even while those ministries are continuing to support food banks and come alongside of the most vulnerable,” he said.
“And of course the chorus of prayers that is coming up from communities of faith around the country is making the difference that it always has in the life of this nation.”
He and President Donald Trump had promised to “remind people that on the weekends that you’re not in the pews, it’s still a good idea, if you can, to go ahead and make that donation.” He explained that “all the ministries are continuing to play a vital role in our communities and we encourage your continued support.”
Also on Saturday, Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, tested negative for coronavirus, according to a statement tweeted by his press secretary, Katie Miller, The Hill reported. A member of the vice president’s staff had recently tested positive for COVID-19.
As of early Sunday, there were over 300,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in 184 countries, areas or territories, with a death toll of over 13,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.
In the United States, the number of confirmed cases jumped to more than 26,000 with more than 340 deaths.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Saturday issued a stay-at-home order for nearly all of the state’s 9 million residents, according to NBC News.
“We must flatten the curve and ensure residents are practicing social distancing,” Murphy said. “Even with this order in effect …, life in New Jersey does not have to come to a complete standstill.”
California, Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania are among the states that have taken such desperate measures.
However, amid the coronavirus scare, stories of hope and resilience are emerging.
Last week, a 90-year-old Seattle woman, Geneva Wood, who contracted coronavirus at a senior care facility, recovered, according to CBS News. A CDC investigation found that 62 percent of the roughly 130 elderly residents had become infected at Life Care Center and more than a quarter of them have died.
Wood has five kids, 11 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, and 3 great-great-grandchildren.
Her grand-daughter-in-law, Kate Neidigh, said, “The love of her family had been a driving force in everything she did pre-coronavirus. No way was this going to change after-the-fact.”
Meanwhile, a recent video clip of a 6-year-old girl teaching a Bible verse, 2 Timothy 1:7, from memory to her 7-year-old brother to calm his fears over the novel coronavirus pandemic is going viral on social media.
“My son Brandon has crippling fear cause of his #autism. His sister taught him a scripture she learned at @FellowshipMiss2 Church to help,” tweeted Sheletta Brundidge, a mother of four and children’s author, with the video. “Stop letting your fear of #Coronavirus be bigger than your faith in God. Plead The Blood, pray and wash your hands. Amen!”
Governments around the world are scrambling to limit the spread of the coronavirus and are facing criticism of anxious citizens and journalists.
At the press briefing Saturday, President Trump defended his administration’s response in the initial days of the coronavirus crisis.
“I get a lot of credit for having closed our country very early to a very heavily infected country, China,” he said. “Unfortunately, China … I wish China would have told us more about what was going on in China long prior to us reading about it.”
President Trump was responding to a report in The Washington Post claiming that U.S. intelligence agencies issued ominous, classified warnings in January and February about the global danger posed by the coronavirus but Trump and lawmakers played down the threat.