Trump calls for National Day of Prayer, to monitor online service

President Trump has declared Sunday a “National Day of Prayer” amid the worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus and said he will monitor a church service online.

Trump made the declaration Friday, the same day he also declared a national emergency over COVID-19, which has killed thousands of people worldwide. 

“It is my great honor to declare Sunday, March 15th as a National Day of Prayer,” Trump tweeted Friday. “We are a Country that, throughout our history, has looked to God for protection and strength in times like these.” 

“No matter where you may be, I encourage you to turn towards prayer in an act of faith. Together, we will easily PREVAIL!” Trump wrote in a follow-up tweet.

He also said late Saturday that he planned to tune in to an online church service being led by Pastor Jentezen Franklin of Free Chapel in Gainesville, Ga. 

“Tomorrow I have called for a National Day of Prayer. I will be tuning in to Pastor @Jentezen at the @FreeChapel Church in Gainesville, Georgia at 11:00 AM EDT. God Bless the USA!” he said.

A number of churches have reported a surge in viewership in their livestreams amid the coronavirus outbreak, according to CNN Business. A spokesperson for Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, which is based in Seattle, told the network that it saw its livestream viewership more than double last week.

Churchome, a megachurch celebrities such as Justin Bieber have attended, also reportedly recorded a 60 percent increase in app sign-ups after it closed its locations in Seattle. It also told the network that its livestream viewership has increased by nearly a quarter as much of the public has been advised by officials to remain indoors to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

With Trump’s emergency declaration on Friday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will able to utilize resources from the Disaster Relief Fund to provide support to states as local officials work to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Trump also announced on Friday that he would be waiving interest on “all student loans held by federal government agencies” until further notice as a number of colleges across the country close their campuses amid the outbreak.

So far, data from the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering shows more than 156,000 cases of the virus have been confirmed worldwide, including 2,952 confirmed in the United States. More than 5,800 deaths from the virus have been reported across globe as well as more than 73,000 recoveries.

As of now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there is no vaccine for the disease.

This report was updated at 8:50 a.m.

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