Protests have erupted in the states of Arizona and Pennsylvania over lockdown measures put in place to curb the transmission of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
Pennsylvania residents on April 20 became the latest to demand lockdown measures be lifted as state Gov. Tom Wolf announced its stay-at-home order would be extended to May 8. It had previously been scheduled to end on April 30.
“You must only travel, if needed, for businesses that are open,” Wolf said in a news conference on Monday.
Tens of millions of Americans have lost their jobs as a result of the lockdowns, which are aimed at curbing the spread of the CCP virus that emerged in mainland China last year, but have proven increasingly controversial as some orders close beaches, prevent people from buying seeds, and restrict travel.
The economic damage has led to increasing agitation for relaxing social-distancing restrictions, especially as the rate of CCP virus hospitalizations and other indicators of the outbreak’s severity have begun to level off in recent days.
Some Pennsylvania residents demonstrated near the capitol in Harrisburg on Monday, holding signs, honking horns, and waving American flags. Many expressed uncertainty over the government’s response to the spread of the virus.
“All the projections were wrong, but we are still telling people to stay home and businesses to close,” said Mark Cooper, a retired truck driver. “This is not quarantine, this is tyranny.”
Others, meanwhile, said the implemented measures have been critical in saving lives.
“They are dying everyday,” said Yetta Timothy, a 43-year-old who was part of a counter-protest in Harrisburg. “My life is on the line.”
The state’s demonstration came on the heels of large demonstrations held in recent days in states including Michigan, Minnesota, Virginia, Maryland, Washington state, and Colorado.
An estimated 2,500 people rallied at the Washington state capitol in Olympia over the weekend to protest Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order, defying a ban on gatherings of 50 or more people.
Meanwhile, hundreds of demonstrators in Arizona on Monday defied recommendations of health officials to wear masks in public and to adhere to social distancing measures as they took to Arizona State Capitol, demanding that strict controls on public activity are lifted.
Restrictions in Arizona put in place by Gov. Doug Ducey are set to be lifted on April 30, however he has been cautious in detailing how and when they might be eased.
Ducey said last week that while he wants to “see everyone get back to work and back with their lives,” he wants that to happen “when it is safe and healthy to do so.”
“We appreciate the passion expressed by Arizonans today, and we share their desire to get back to normal as quickly as possible,” Ducey’s spokesman, Patrick Ptak, said in response to Monday’s demonstration.
Monday’s protests came after President Donald Trump encouraged people to protest stay-at-home orders in a handful of battleground states led by Democratic governors.
Heading into the weekend, Trump issued separate tweets calling to “LIBERATE MINNESOTA,” “LIBERATE MICHIGAN,” and “LIBERATE VIRGINIA,” warning that Virginia was literally “under siege” over Second Amendment issues predating the lockdown.
On April 18, Trump defended the demonstrations, saying: “These people love our country. They want to go back to work.”
There are over 787,000 cases of the CCP virus across the United States and at least 42,364 deaths, according to a tracking map from Johns Hopkins University that collates official government data.
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, in an April 20 interview on ABC, cautioned against lifting restrictions too early.
“What you do if you jump the gun and go into a situation where you have a big spike, you’re gonna set yourself back. … It’s going to backfire. That’s the problem,” Fauci said.
Tom Ozimek and Reuters contributed to this report.