Despite repeated warnings from health experts about the risk of social interaction over novel coronavirus, governors in at least three states have exempted houses of worship from statewide bans on mass gatherings, and this weekend will offer a first test to see if any congregations forge ahead despite the warnings. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, has banned gatherings of 50 or more and signed a statewide stay-at-home order on Monday. But both mandates explicitly exempt houses of worship from the misdemeanor penalty for violators. “That’s an area we don’t have the ability to directly enforce or control,” Whitmer said during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.” She said she felt pressure from Republicans in the state legislature to include the exemption and said her hands were tied by the separation of church and state. Democratic Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly tightened restrictions on mass gatherings in her state to no more than 10 people. But much like with Michigan, she exempted houses of worship as long as congregants engage in appropriate social distancing. Ohio officials carved out exemptions for religious gatherings, including weddings and funerals, from its stay-at-home order, on top of a broad exemption for any gathering “for the


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