A New Jersey pastor has defended himself after being accused by CNN of creating unnecessary risk by delivering his sermon unmasked during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The question of when and where to don a protective mask in public has become an intensely-debated topic in the US, as some fight to end lockdown restrictions and others argue a ‘new normal’ must be embraced until a vaccine is released, and that debate played out between a New Jersey preacher and a CNN host on Tuesday morning.
Pastor Charles Clark II of the Solid Rock Baptist Church in Camden County, New Jersey, appeared on ‘New Day’ to explain his reasoning for remaining open despite state orders to shut down. But, apparently, all host Alisyn Camerota wanted to talk about was the pastor not wearing a mask during a sermon over the weekend.
“It is actually your behavior in front of the congregation that could possibly be the riskiest,” Camerota told Clark, then explaining “loud speech” creates more of a risk to infect people with “thousands of droplets.”
Clark defended himself by arguing masks are not required in situations where social distancing can be practiced, something true of his sermon.
“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.”
The CDC has officially recommended masks for people in public settings where “other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.”
Dr Anthony Fauci, who sits on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, has reiterated that point, arguing on multiple occasions that masks are not a “substitute” for social distancing, and remaining six feet apart is the best way to fight the spread of the virus.
Camerota was having none of the pastor’s defense as she went into a short history of religious services being a hotbed for spreading Covid-19.
“In Arkansas, a pastor and his wife infected 35 people doing just that kind of preaching, three people then died. In Washington, that was a choir, but there was one person sick in a choir who because of singing infected 71 people; two of them died.”
“If I was on the New Jersey boardwalk today or if I were to be in Home Depot today, if I were to be in the grocery store today, and I know some – I know we’re wearing masks in those places – but we’re putting on a mask,” Clark later argued, adding, “There is no guarantee of.. with me wearing that mask or not, that it is going to make it perfect being there on the platform.”
Not wearing masks has become increasingly triggering, as people have taken to shaming others in public. One video shot in Staten Island, New York, over the weekend even showed a woman being chased out of a grocery store by a mask-wearing mob.
President Donald Trump himself has refused to don a mask in public, while the presumptive presidential candidate for the Democrat Party, Joe Biden, made waves for appearing in public on Memorial Day wearing a black protective mask and black sunglasses.
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