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Americans Divided on Holiday Activities05/24 09:44

   President Donald Trump played golf at one of his courses Saturday during the 
Memorial Day weekend as he urged U.S. states to reopen after 
coronavirus-related lockdowns. Yet many Americans remained cautious as the 
number of confirmed cases nationwide passed 1.6 million.

   NEW YORK (AP) -- President Donald Trump played golf at one of his courses 
Saturday during the Memorial Day weekend as he urged U.S. states to reopen 
after coronavirus-related lockdowns. Yet many Americans remained cautious as 
the number of confirmed cases nationwide passed 1.6 million.

   In California, where many businesses and recreational activities are 
reopening, officials in Los Angeles County said they would maintain tight 
restrictions until July 4. Some religious leaders took issue with Trump's 
declaration that houses of worship are "essential" and should resume in-person 
services this weekend.

   "Being at the epicenter of this pandemic and in order to protect our flock, 
we advise that congregations remain closed until more accurate and uniform 
information is provided," said Bishop Paul Egensteiner, who oversees the 
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's congregations in the hard-hit New York 
City region.

   Statewide, New York reported its lowest number of daily coronavirus deaths 
 84  in many weeks in what Gov. Andrew Cuomo described as a critical 
benchmark. The daily death tally peaked at 799 on April 8.

   "For me, it's a sign that we're making real progress," Cuomo said.

   Rain dampened the start of the holiday weekend in the northeastern U.S., 
where newly reopened beaches were expected to attract throngs of people and 
test the effectiveness of social distancing rules. At Orchard Beach in the 
Bronx, which was crowded a weekend earlier, parking lots were mostly empty 
except for large puddles.

   To the south, Trump played golf at one of his private clubs for the first 
time during the pandemic  the Trump National Golf Club in Virginia. He has 
been pushing for state and local leaders to fully reopen after months of 
closures and tight restrictions.

   Parts of New Orleans stirred to back life, with some restaurants and 
businesses opening for the first time in over two months. Some remained closed, 
especially in the French Quarter, which relies largely on tourist dollars.

   At least a few out-of-towners trickled in. Greer Falls of Augusta, Georgia, 
wore a mask as he entered the Royal House restaurant for lunch. After weeks at 
home, he said he was ready for a change of scenery and didn't want to miss a 
birthday celebration with friends he's known for decades.

   Some amusement parks, such as Mt. Olympus in the Wisconsin Dells and Lagoon 
amusement park in Farmington, Utah, opened for the first time in months. The 
Facebook sites for both parks were flooded with comments from visitors excited 
to ride go-karts or roller coasters, though some complained about Lagoon's 
policy of requiring masks.

   Andrew Young, 29, said Lagoon has been a lifelong summer staple and when he 
learned the park would be open Saturday, he went online immediately to make a 
reservation for himself, his wife and 2-year-old daughter. Because a limited 
number of people were allowed entry, they found short lines and there always 
seemed to be just one other family on each ride. There were also sanitation 
stations and other measures to keep people distanced and feeling safe.

   "It was a lot of fun," Young said. "Finally going, having some feeling of 
normalcy. ... We had a very enjoyable morning."

   Overseas, there was mixed news. New coronavirus cases reported in China were 
zero Saturday for the first time since the outbreak began but surged in India 
and overwhelmed hospitals across Latin America.

   Many governments are easing restrictions as they face a political backlash 
and historic economic recessions. In just a few months, the pandemic has killed 
at least 340,000 people worldwide and infected about 5.3 million, according to 
a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

   As the United States closed in on 100,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, the New 
York Times devoted Sunday's entire, photo-less front page to a list of nearly 
1,000 names of pandemic victims with a few words in memorial for each, culled 
from obituaries published around the country. "Continued on Page 12," it read 
at bottom right.

   Turkey, which has recorded over 155,000 infections, imposed its toughest 
lockdown measures yet for the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of Ramadan. 
Yemen's Houthi rebels urged believers to use masks and stay inside, as 
authorities try to contain infections at a time usually marked by 
multigenerational feasting and collective prayer.

   In Germany, which has drawn praise for its handling of the virus, seven 
people appear to have been infected at a restaurant in the northwest of the 
country. It would be the first such known case since restaurants started 
reopening two weeks ago.

   And in Frankfurt, more than 40 people tested positive after a church service 
of the Evangelical Christian Baptist congregation May 10. A church leader said 
the congregation has canceled gatherings and is now holding services online.

   Authorities in nearby Hanau called off Muslim prayers planned for a stadium 
Sunday as a precaution.

   Religious events helped spread the virus early in the pandemic; resuming 
such gatherings is an especially thorny issue.

   Mindful of evangelical Christians who are key to his base ahead of 
November's election, Trump on Friday called houses of worship "essential" and 
urged governors to let them reopen this weekend. However, leaders of many 
denominations said they plan to move gradually and cautiously.

   In Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz said he is scrapping a 10-person limit on 
gatherings and letting houses of worship open at 25% occupancy if safety 
guidelines are met.

   Archbishop Bernard Hebda of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and 
Minneapolis welcomed the change but said priests should not reopen their 
churches if they can't comply with safety measures.

   France allowed in-person services to resume Saturday after a legal challenge 
to a ban on gatherings in places of worship.

   One of the world's major pilgrimage sites is reopening Sunday: the Church of 
the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, built on the site where Christians believe 
Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected.

   Latin America is the latest epicenter of the virus, and experts note the 
limitations of government action in a region where millions have informal jobs 
and many police forces are unable to enforce restrictions.

   Brazil and Mexico reported record numbers of infections and deaths almost 
daily this week, fueling criticism of their presidents for limited lockdowns. 
But infections also rose and intensive care units were swamped in Peru, Chile 
and Ecuador, all lauded for imposing early and aggressive business shutdowns 
and quarantines.

   Concerns are rising in India, where new cases showed another record jump 
Saturday, topping 6,000 for a second consecutive day as a two-month lockdown 
has eased.

   While some countries are facing a second wave of infections, badly hit 
Russia is still struggling with its first and reported more than 9,000 new 
cases Saturday.

 
 
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