DUNDALK, Md. (WJZ) — Maryland’s confirmed cases have reached 46,000 with Sunday’s numbers showing a decline in hospitalizations and ICU beds.
But Baltimore City and Baltimore County have both extended prohibitions of gatherings of 10 or more people- including religious institutions.
“If Walmart’s open it’s time for the churches to be open,” said David Gibbs III, attorney for Calvary Baptist Church.
Sunday services were held at Dundalk’s Calvary Baptist Church despite the county’s order.
“Our people were just ready to come back to church,” said Pastor Stacey Shiflett, with Calvary Baptist Church.
The church was checking temperatures and handing out liability waivers as worshippers arrived.
- Coronavirus Resources: How To Get Help In Maryland
- TIMELINE: Coronavirus In Maryland, Tracking The Spread
- Coronavirus-Related Closings
- Latest coronavirus stories from WJZ
“Those that are here are willing to take the risk,” the pastor said.
“It just defies logic to why they’d wanna do that!” said Al Brauer, one of the area’s neighbors who looked on to the services with growing concern.
“He’s gonna have hundreds of people in there God knows who they’re gonna carry it home to or give to,” Brauer said.
On Wednesday, Pastor Shiflett ripped up a cease and desist order, vowing to defy the COVID shutdown.
“I’m tearing up this cease and desist order right now and I’m telling you right now we’re gonna do it God’s way,” Shiflett said in a Twitter video.
“The restrictions of gatherings of ten or more people remain in place either indoors or outdoors,” said Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski.
On Friday, President Donald Trump labeled churches and other houses of worship essential.
“…have left out churches and other houses of worship, that’s not right,” President Trump said.
He urged governors to let them reopen this weekend.
“If they don’t do it, I will override the governors,” He added.
“I think the ministers will have to decide for themselves whether they want to protect the safety of their parishioners,” Mayor Young said.
The Archdiocese of Baltimore has also said starting next week they’ll be reopening churches in areas of the state that allow gatherings of more than 10 people.