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Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Department of Justice spokesperson Kerri Kupec signaled in a tweet Saturday upcoming DOJ action against local authorities that have cracked down on religious services as part of restrictions to combat the novel coronavirus.

Why it matters: While many religious leaders have moved to online services, some churches and conservatives are pushing back against local government orders preventing them from holding in-person gatherings during the pandemic.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Driving the news: After a warrant was issued for the arrest of Florida megachurch pastor Rodney Howard-Browne for refusing to cancel his packed services and obey coronavirus physical distancing orders, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a directive that the state's stay-at-home-order exempts religious gatherings.

  • In Louisiana, the pastor of a megachurch near Baton Rouge told Reuters he expected more than 2,000 worshippers on Easter Sunday.
  • In Kansas, the state's Supreme Court announced late Saturday it had upheld Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly's executive order preventing religious services of more than 10 people after the Republican-controlled legislature overturned her ban.
  • In Kentucky, a federal judge granted on Saturday a temporary restraining order filed by a Louisville church against Mayor Greg Fischer who announced a ban on an Easter Sunday drive-in service. The judge stated in a memorandum that the mayor's decision was "unconstitutional," per Fox News.
  • In Greenville, Mississippi, two churches said police threatened to fine worshippers at their drive-in services following a ban on the practice announced by the local mayor and city council, Fox News notes.
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Go deeper: God and COVID-19

Editor's note: This article has been updated with the Kansas Supreme Court ruling.

Go deeper

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The pandemic has thrust a relatively unknown ailment, anosmia — or smell loss — into the international spotlight.

Why it matters: Researchers hope smell testing becomes as standard as the annual flu shot, helping to detect early signs of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Senate passes $1.9 trillion COVID relief package

Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Senate voted 50-49 on Saturday to approve President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

Why it matters: COVID relief has been a central promise for Biden, and passing the sweeping package has been a major priority for the administration and congressional Democrats.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
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Why we need to know COVID's origins

The WHO's headquarters in Geneva. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

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Why it matters: Insights into how COVID-19 began can help us prevent future pandemics — especially if it involved any kind of leak or accident at a virology lab.

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