By Beyza Binnur Donmez
ANKARA (AA) – The U.S. state of Iowa marked a Day of Prayer on Thursday to urge unity against the nationwide coronavirus outbreak.
"I've declared tomorrow (4/9) as a 'Day of Prayer' in Iowa. It's the first day of Passover and Maundy Thursday, and I encourage all Iowans to unite in prayer," Governor Kim Reynolds said Wednesday on Twitter, also referring to Jewish and Christian holy days.
In a separate statement, Reynolds urged Iowans to "unite in prayer" in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, inviting residents of the Midwestern state to participate in the 59th Annual Iowa Prayer Breakfast, which is offered entirely online this year.
"The power of prayer and faith in God is something that has guided so many of us in good times and bad," she said. "We have all been impacted by COVID-19. Some of us have lost a loved one and others know those who are sick."
Connie Ryan, executive director of the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, issued a critical statement in response, that said it is "never the role of elected officials to promote any particular religion or any religious practice."
According to the data on the governor's website, Iowa has 1,145 confirmed cases of coronavirus and over 20 deaths.
The U.S. has the highest number of confirmed virus cases worldwide – nearly 432,500, according to the data compiled by Johns Hopkins University in Maryland. Almost 15,000 fatalities have been recorded, while more than 24,100 people recovered.
Overall, the virus has spread to 184 countries, infecting nearly 1.5 million people since it first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.