Pelosi: ‘Really unfortunate’ that protesters are pushing back against coronavirus restrictions

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is speaking out against demonstrators who are gathering in some states to protest stringent stay-at-home orders designed to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

Pelosi told “Fox News Sunday” that she couldn’t understand why Americans are protesting strict measures to keep people at home, saying that one of the answers to the pandemic is to “shelter in place.” 

“That is really the answer,” Pelosi said. “Testing. Tracing. Treatment. Shelter in place… But, you know, people will do what they do.”

“The fact is, we’re all impatient. We all want out. But what they’re doing is really unfortunate,” she said. 

Her comments followed a week in which protestors in states such as Michigan, Maryland, Texas, Virginia and Minnesota held demonstrations to voice their opposition to restrictions that have led to a mass closure of non-essential businesses and schools.

In Michigan, thousands of people, many of whom donned Trump apparel, gathered at the state capitol on Thursday to protest Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) extension of a stay-at-home order. Hundreds reportedly gathered at the Texas state capitol on Saturday in a protest organized by InfoWars, the site founded by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. 

Pelosi in a separate interview broadcast Sunday morning, however, said she wouldn’t “exaggerate the protests.”

“There are some in some places, largely where there’s a Democratic governor. But I think of it largely as a distraction and the president’s embrace of it as a distraction from the fact that he has not appropriately done testing, treatment, contact tracing, and quarantine,” she said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Health officials warn that the gatherings could inadvertently help further the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and ultimately lead to an extension of stay-at-home measures. Many experts also say that the U.S. must have widespread testing availability and a contact-tracing program in place in order to safely reopen portions of the economy. 

Despite those warnings, President Trump appeared to voice support for the protests in a series of tweets on Friday. Trump called to “liberate” Minnesota, Virginia and Michigan in response to reports of planned protests in the states. The states, all of which are led by Democratic governors, are three of the dozens that have instituted strict stay-at-home orders as part of efforts to slow the spread of the virus. 

While the protests in the states gained attention last week, a majority of Americans say their greater concern is that state leaders will lift social-distancing requirements too quickly, a Pew Research Center survey found

The U.S. has reported more than 735,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and roughly 39,000 deaths caused by it, according to a Johns Hopkins University database. Trump said last week that he would leave the decision to reopen businesses and schools to the governors. 

–This report was updated at 9:22 a.m.

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