Dr. Ben Carson talks power of prayer at coronavirus press briefing

Trump to expand travel ban to UK, Ireland

President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence and members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, takes questions from the press at a coronavirus update briefing Saturday, March 14, 2020, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. | Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

Backing President Donald Trump’s decision to make Sunday a National Day of Prayer to address the coronavirus outbreak, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson on Saturday underlined the importance of prayer and faith in maintaining America’s greatness.

Talking about the coronavirus, or COVID-19, during President Trump’s press briefing at the White House Saturday, Carson said he hoped that Americans “can use this as an opportunity to pull together for good.”

“President Trump is going to be recommending a national day of prayer. And you know, we’ve gotten away from prayer and faith a lot in this country,” he said.

“There’s nothing wrong with godly principles, no matter what your faith is — loving your neighbor — caring about the people around you,” he continued. “Developing your God-given talents to the utmost, so you become valuable to the people around you. Having values and principles that guide your life. Those are things that made America zoom to the top of the world in record time — and those are the things that will keep us there too.”

On Friday evening, the president declared Sunday as a National Day of Prayer.

“It is my great honor to declare Sunday, March 15th as a National Day of Prayer. We are a Country that, throughout our history, has looked to God for protection and strength in times like these,” the president wrote on Twitter. “No matter where you may be, I encourage you to turn towards prayer in an act of faith. Together, we will easily PREVAIL!”

Since 1988, the first Sunday of March has been designated as a National Day of Prayer each year. Trump urged that the event be used this year to pray for protection from the coronavirus pandemic.

Responding to Trump’s call to pray for America’s safety, pastor Allen Jackson of World Outreach Church in Tennessee, the Christian nonprofit group My Faith Votes and pastor Rob Morgan of Donelson Fellowship, also in Tennessee, have announced that they will hold a joint service called “America, Its Time to Pray,” which will be live-streamed.

Congregations across the nation are invited, they said in a statement, to join them “in praying for faith over fear and God’s intervention in the spread of COVID-19.”

Speaking at the same press briefing on Saturday, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams encouraged the media to focus on dealing with the disease and not on criticizing the Trump administration’s efforts to combat the coronavirus.

“I want you all to understand — straight talk from the nation’s doctor —  we really need you all to lean into and prioritize the health and safety of the American people,” he said. “No more bickering, no more partisanship, no more criticism or finger-pointing; they’ll be plenty of time for that. But we all need to hit the reset button and lean forward, the health and safety of the American people are top priority.”

Adams said the spread of the novel coronavirus “will get worse before it gets better but we are making progress to flatten the curve. We are making progress.” He also assured that almost all who get infected will recover, “98, 99 percent of the people will recover.”

Also on Saturday, the Trump administration extended the existing ban on travel from Europe to include the U.K. and Ireland. The travel restrictions will come into force midnight on Monday, the administration said. 

Excluded from the ban are American citizens, legal permanent residents, and their immediate families, among others.

During Saturday’s press briefing, Trump said he’s also considering domestic travel restrictions. “If you don’t have to travel, I wouldn’t do it. We want this thing to end. We don’t want a lot of people getting infected,” he said.

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