Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

A federal court ruled Friday that Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear cannot temporarily ban mass gatherings at religious services, giving churches and other religious institutions a pathway to hold services, AP reports.

The big picture: Churches in some states have been challenging governors' short-term bans on mass gatherings, saying stay-at-home orders infringe on Americans' right to religious assembly. However, state and local officials are trying to balance that freedom while slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

The state of play: Kentucky churches and other places of worship must adhere to social distancing and hygiene guidelines when they reopen.

  • U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove said Beshear had “an honest motive” in trying to protect Kentuckians' health and safety amid the coronavirus outbreak, but the governor didn't give "a compelling reason for using his authority to limit a citizen's right to freely exercise something we value greatly — the right of every American to follow their conscience on matters related to religion.”

Zoom out:

  • In Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam argued that allowing churches to hold gatherings of more than 10 people "would seriously undermine" efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus, AP reports. The state is being sued by Lighthouse Fellowship Church of Chincoteague after its pastor received a citation for hosting 16 people at a Sunday service.
  • In Michigan, three churches are suing Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home order in federal court, claiming it infringes on their First Amendment rights to assemble, per The Detroit News.

Go deeper: God and COVID-19

Go deeper

Elevator anxiety will stifle reopenings

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Will you step back into an elevator any time soon?

Why it matters: Tens of billions of dollars — and the future of cities around the country — rest on the answer to that question. So long as workers remain unwilling to take elevators, hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of office real estate will continue to go largely unused.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 19,648,084 — Total deaths: 727,024 — Total recoveries — 11,941,723Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 4,998,105 — Total deaths: 162,425 — Total recoveries: 1,643,118 — Total tests: 61,080,587Map.
  3. Politics: Trump signs 4 executive actions on coronavirus aid — Democrats, and some Republicans, criticize the move
  4. Public health: Fauci says chances are "not great" that COVID-19 vaccine will be 98% effective — 1 in 3 Americans would decline COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Science: Indoor air is the next coronavirus frontline.
  6. Schools: How back-to-school is playing out in the South as coronavirus rages on — Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Howard to hold fall classes online.
Updated 5 hours ago - World

Brazil coronavirus death toll tops 100,000 and case numbers surpass 3 million

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro posted a photo of himself to Facebook congratulating his soccer team, Palmeiras, for winning the state title Saturday, moments after the health ministry confirmed the national COVID-19 death toll had surpassed 100,000.

Why it matters: Brazil is only the second country to confirm more than 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus. On Sunday morning, it became the second country to surpass 3 million cases, per Johns Hopkins. Only the U.S. has reported more. Bolsonaro has yet to address the milestones. He has previously tested positive for COVID-19 three times, but he's downplayed the impact of the virus, which has crippled Brazil's economy.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with the latest coronavirus case numbers and more context.