Protesters calling for businesses to reopen in Kentucky interrupted Gov. Andy Beshear’s CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus briefing on April 15, chanting for the governor to “open up Kentucky,” the Courier Journal reported.
A video posted on Twitter by the publication showed protesters, some of whom appeared to be standing less than the recommended 6 feet apart from one another, and others wearing masks or face coverings, chanting “we want to work” and “facts over fear,” as they gathered on the lawn of the State Capitol.
Although initially just a handful of people gathered outside the press briefing, the crowd soon reached nearly 100 by the time Beshear gave his televised one-hour briefing, many of them yelling “open up Kentucky!” and “open up the church!” non-stop throughout the duration of his update while a horn was occasionally sounded.
A lawsuit was filed against Beshear earlier this week by three Kentuckians who defied a state order on mass gatherings and attended an Easter service at Maryville Baptist Church near Louisville, claiming that the state’s prohibition on in-person church services amid the current pandemic violates their Constitutional rights.
The three attendees, Theodore Roberts, Randall Daniel, and Sally O’Boyle, claimed they left the service to find notices on their car, demanding that they self-quarantine for 14 days.
About halfway through his briefing on Wednesday, Beshear acknowledged the protesters, saying “there’s some noise in the background,” but noted that he would not be adhering to their demands because it would ultimately lead to more fatalities.
“We do have some folks up in here in Kentucky today—and everybody should be able to express their opinion—that believe we should reopen Kentucky immediately, right now. Folks, that would kill people. That would absolutely kill people,” Beshear said, according to the Courier Journal. “My job isn’t to make the popular decision, but the right decision,” he added, “and the decision that saves peoples’ lives.”
During the press conference, Beshear said 88 cases of the CCP virus have been confirmed and seven new deaths have been reported in Kentucky over the last 24 hours. As of April 16, the state has 2,291 confirmed cases of the virus while 122 deaths have been attributed to the disease, which originated in Wuhan, China, last year.
Beshear issued a statewide “healthy-at-home” order (pdf) March 25, mandating that only “life-sustaining” businesses may remain open while all others that aren’t must close to in-person traffic by end-of-business March 26 in order to mitigate the spread of the virus.
A number of protests have broken out in states across America as people call for restrictions to be lifted and non-essential businesses to be allowed to reopen. On Wednesday, protesters amassed around Michigan’s capitol building in Lansing to demonstrate against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s latest order that places restrictions on travel, the sale of nonessential items, and more.
Similar protests also broke out in Columbus, Ohio, and Raleigh, North Carolina, which saw one protester, Monica Faith Ussery, 51, arrested and charged with with violating Gov. Roy Cooper’s stay-at-home executive order.