RIDGELAND, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi is the center of the Bible Belt in the U.S. and its residents consider themselves the most religious in the country.
However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs has described churches as a "powder keg" for virus infections and deaths, yet Republican Gov. Tate Reeves has not placed restrictions on worship, citing religious freedom.
As Christmas approaches, new cases have been peaking and thousands of Americans are dying from the virus every day.
Rev. Jay Richardson was hospitalized after an outbreak at his suburban Jackson church in September, but he's keeping his church open since he says isolation is worse.