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Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway told "The Story" Friday that President Trump's declaration that houses of worship are "essential" during the coronavirus pandemic was an effort to fix an issue in states where such facilities have been shuttered for weeks.
"He [Trump] said he was correcting an injustice, that is an important phrase, because we haven't been treating every institution the same," she said. "And those protected activities [like] the right to worship deserves heightened scrutiny."
Conway pointed out that residents of some states are allowed to a convenience store to purchase their "Doritos and Cheetos" but cannot attend religious services.
Earlier Friday, Trump called on governors to allow houses of worship to open “right now”.
"The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open ... for this weekend," the president said. "If they don't do it, I will override the governors."
"In America, we need more prayer not less," Trump added.
In Conway's home state of New Jersey, several pastors have threatened legal action if Gov. Philip Murphy, a Democrat, doesn't allow their congregations to open.
Conway clarified on "The Story" that no one at the White House or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling for people to hug or use the same hymnal or prayer book or Communion vessel, but noted that the CDC itself has said that faith is essential to Americans.
"Pre-pandemic, we had in this country 120,000 deaths a year from drug overdoses and suicides, and many experts predicted that could be exacerbated and get worse because people are not availing themselves of socialization," she said.
"Look what we're doing to so many of our kids, they don't have the academic or social structure -- there have been increases in child abuse, spousal abuse, drug abuse, mental health problems in some places, because of the isolation, fear, and the lack of just being around other people."