Trump deems places of worship 'essential'

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Image: President Donald Trump holds a protective face mask with a presidential seal on it that he said he had been wearing earlier in his tour at the Ford Rawsonville Components Plant
President Donald Trump holds a protective face mask with a presidential seal on it that he said he had been wearing during his tour of a Ford plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, on Thursday.Leah Millis / Reuters

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Ongoing stay-at-home orders prompted President Donald Trump on Friday to deem houses of worship essential. He threatened to override governors who have ordered churches, synagogues and mosques not to reopen in the coming days.

With the coronavirus threat looming, the long Memorial Day weekend won't look anything like years past.

Meanwhile, the nation's most populous county is getting ready to reopen by the next big summer holiday - July 4.

Here's what to know about the coronavirus, plus a timeline of the most critical moments:

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Female boxers in Gaza train on the beach after gym closure

A Palestinian girl is instructed by coach Osama Ayob on Thursday during a boxing training session on the sidewalk of a beach as sports clubs are closed due to coronavirus fears in Gaza City.Suhaib Salem / Reuters

A team of young female boxers — some as young as four — trained on the beach in Gaza this week after their club was closed due to COVID-19. Gaza has reported 55 coronavirus cases, all of them in quarantine centers, and no deaths.

The sight of over a dozen girls boxing on the beach while wearing face masks caught the eye of passersby in the Mediterranean coastal enclave, where the sport is mostly popular with men. The girls' coach, Osama Ayob, said the public training sessions could help get more girls involved in the sport. Women make up half of the strip's two million people.

"Some families walking by us liked the idea and they asked if they could send their girls so I can train them," said Ayob, 34. One of the boxers, 15-year-old Malah Mesleh, said she would rather train in public than miss out on sessions — or, worse yet, risk contagion by practicing in the team's gym.

Mississippi governor outraged after church fighting virus rules burned to ground

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said he's "heartbroken and furious" after a fire this week at a church that has challenged coronavirus restrictions. The fire is being investigated as arson.

The fire Wednesday in Holly Springs destroyed the First Pentecostal Church, and investigators found graffiti in the church parking lot that reads, “Bet you stay home now you hypokrits," NBC affiliate WMC of Memphis reported.

The church was "burned to the ground" and had been trying to open services, Reeves tweeted Thursday.

First Pentecostal filed a lawsuit last month against the city over its public health order on in-person worship services, the station reported.

"This is not who we are," the governor said at a daily news conference on the coronavirus epidemic and the state's response.

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Minorities, older workers hit hard by layoffs, pay cuts

Pentagon starts planning for military's post-COVID-19 future

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon's Joint Staff has launched a planning group focused on the U.S. military's long-term plans for operating during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, taking into account the likelihood that the defense budget may be cut and that troops may come home, according to three defense officials.

The group is examining how the military is postured around the world, whether it needs to focus more personnel or assets domestically, and where it needs to invest personnel and money to operate during and after COVID-19.

The group will look at possible vulnerabilities the U.S. may face during the pandemic and where adversaries could try to take advantage of the U.S. focus on COVID-19. At the same time, the group will determine what strategic advantages the U.S. can leverage as adversaries are also focused on the outbreak.

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Small businesses struggle as many big retailers see revenue surge, online sales grow