Protesters, anti-quarantine groups call for end to coronavirus closures
Growing unrest from coronavirus stay-at-home orders in place across the country have resulted in organized protests and the creation of anti-quarantine organizations across the nation.
On Monday, about 100 protesters crowded the Ohio statehouse as Gov. Mike DeWine (R) gave his daily coronavirus briefing, according to The Columbus Dispatch. They demanded an end to the state’s stay-at-home order, which the governor extended to May 1 earlier this month.
The protestors join Republican lawmakers in the state in pressuring the governor to reopen the economy.
“We need to get the economy open, even if that means social distancing of some sort for months to come,” State Sen. Andrew Brenner (R ), wrote in a Facebook post. “We can’t stay like this much longer, and the hundreds of thousands of Ohioans who’ve lost their jobs or the thousands of small business owners can’t keep doing this either, or their lives will be irreparably destroyed.”
Protests in the state came the same day President Trump received pushback from a number of governors after he claimed he has the full authority to reopen the country. Trump has been a proponent of reopening the country as soon as possible, saying several times “we can’t have the cure be worse than the problem.”
“It is the decision of the President, and for many good reasons. With that being said, the Administration and I are working closely with the Governors, and this will continue,” Trump tweeted Monday. “A decision by me, in conjunction with the Governors and input from others, will be made shortly!”
The Michigan Conservative Coalition and Michigan Freedom Fund are planning an in-vehicle protest at the statehouse Wednesday to demand an end to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order, which she recently extended to April 30 as the state continues to see some of the highest rates of infection in the nation.
The conservative organizations described Whitmer’s mitigation measures as “erratic, unilateral orders that threaten Michiganders’ economic existence,” according to the Lansing State Journal.
Michigan’s order is particularly aggressive, banning home visits between friends and the purchase of nonessential goods. U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.), who has teased a third-party presidential bid, has said Whitmer’s orders “do little to combat COVID-19 but much to curb freedoms and escalate tensions. The governor should re-evaluate before she loses public support for more essential health and safety practices.”
Many of @GovWhitmer’s latest measures do little to combat COVID-19 but much to curb freedoms and escalate tensions. The governor should re-evaluate before she loses public support for more essential health and safety practices.
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) April 13, 2020
“Michigan’s typical small business owners obey laws, but they may not notice the progressive agenda being pushed by our radical leftist Governor Whitmer,” said Rosanne Ponkowski, president of the Michigan Conservative Coalition. “Governor Whitmer will put you out of business before allowing mere citizens to be responsible for their own behavior. That is madness.”
In North Carolina, a group called “ReopenNC” is calling on Gov. Roy Cooper (D) to scale back the remaining two weeks of the state’s stay-at-home directive, according to the Raleigh News and Observer. Like the aforementioned groups, ReopenNC’s online presence has gained a number of followers in the past week.
“At the point it expires, he does not need to extend it,” said Ashley Smith, a Morganton mother of four who is one of ReopenNC’s founders. “He gets out of the way and lets people get back to their lives.”
The closure of nonessential businesses and widespread stay-at-home orders have led to record numbers of unemployment claims and fears of a pending economic recession.
Though public health officials have said that social distancing measures have helped mitigate the spread of the virus, most states in the U.S. have yet to reach their apex of cases.
Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert and member of the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, has said gradual reductions of coronavirus restrictions could happen in some parts of the country as soon as next month.
“We are hoping at the end of the month we can look around and say, ‘Is there any element here we can safely and cautiously start pulling back on?’” Fauci said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday. “If so, do it. If not, then just continue to hunker down.”
Fauci has also said the U.S. can expect to see “a real degree of normalcy” by November.
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