CNN host Alisyn Camerota went the whole way to teach New Jersey pastor Charles Clark II a lesson about the importance of wearing a mask when holding services, especially those that have been carried out in a breach of state orders, but got a strong reaction from the pastor, who appeared on the “New Day” show to discuss the reasoning behind resuming the functioning of his Solid Rock Baptist Church in Camden County.
“Yes we decided that it was time for our church to re-open and we feel that we have our First Amendment right to open up our church at this time,” the pastor explained.
The host then wondered whether the pastor himself donned a mask while delivering a speech.
“When I was on the platform, I did not wear a mask, but anytime I came off the platform I did wear a mask”, Clark clarified.
He went on talking about all precautionary measures that have been taken by the Church’s team to prevent the spread of the infection among the service-goers, including taking temperature measurements and parking-space-in-advance service, but still got schooled by Camerota about his 'riskiest' behaviour. The journalist cited an unspecified research claiming that “one minute of loud speech” was producing “thousands of droplets” that can potentially infect people.
However, the pastor was ready to defend himself.
“We are up on a platform and we have a distance between us and the first pew more than six feet. So, I understand what’s being said. The whole idea of the mask, or not the mask, including back to things Dr. Fauci [American immunologist and a leading member of White House Coronavirus Task Force] has said at times, the mask is very controversial. We are wearing them,” the reverend responded.
“I, being on the platform, people that are back away from the first pew, I don’t think that’s uncommon including in press conferences and where the president and others have spoken, that there is a distance between us and the parishioners, and so every time we come off the platform, we do put our mask on”, he added.
The CNN host was still willing to cite examples of a number of cases across the US when religious figures were creating dangerous situations by holding church services and spreading coronavirus infection among parishioners. Clark reacted by saying that right now there were “no guarantees” of how to protect people, even if the mask is worn in public places.
Previously, US President Donald Trump has also been attacked for refusing to wear a mask in public, including by presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, who left his home in a black mask to commemorate Memorial Day, arguing that health was more important than being “falsely masculine”.
In the start of May, New Jersey extended its state of emergency order over the spread of coronavirus, requiring all non-essential businesses to close down, including recreational, entertainment and religious establishments. Those defying the order in the state, which remains second-most affected by the pandemic, with more than 157,000 people infected, will now face citations and sanctioning.