Thousands gather without social distancing to protest Wisconsin's stay-at-home order

Thousands of protesters descended on the Wisconsin State Capitol on Friday as they called for coronavirus restrictions implemented by Gov. Tony Evers (D) to be lifted.

Photos of the massive demonstration show protesters packed on the capitol's steps, breaking social distancing guidelines as they crammed into the area standing shoulder to shoulder. 

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that protesters cheered "USA" and circulated petitions to recall Evers. Protesters also reportedly held signs reading "All Workers, Are Essential" and "Death.... is preferable to communism."

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Some also carried American flags and assault-style rifles.

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The original stay-at-home order was supposed to end Friday, but last week, Evers extended it to May 26. Evers's new extension of stay-at-home orders does make some adjustments, including the opening of golf courses.

As of Friday evening, Wisconsin health officials said there were 5,356 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state and 262 deaths.

Between Thursday and Friday, the state saw 304 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, its highest increase yet. 

The protests for reopenings in Wisconsin echo those in other states such as Michigan, where some have sued Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) accusing her of violating constitutional rights. 
 
Earlier this week, a Facebook page for the Wisconsin protest had more than 12,000 people respond "interested" and another 3,000 saying they planned to attend. 
 
According to the Journal Sentinel, nurses held a quiet counterprotest Thursday night, lining the capitol with 1,300 electric candles to represent those in the hospital with coronavirus. 
 
 
A former state representative, Don Pridemore and his wife, Tina, were reportedly at the protest collecting signatures to begin recalling Evers. Speaking to the Journal Sentinel, Tina Pridemore said the state needs to reopen.

"We need to open Wisconsin," she said. "Workers need to open the businesses. Churches need to open. If you can open the slaughterhouses of abortion clinics, you can open churches."