Video shot from a local news helicopter revealed a massive crowd, standing shoulder-to-shoulder in protest outside the capitol building in Madison, holding placards and American flags.
“That is a lot of people. Our crew on the ground reports some people are carrying long guns at this protest,” a WISN 12 reporter wrote in a tweet that showed the footage.
“Don’t let the communist takeover of our country … stand strong, be united, and stand tall and proud for America,” said a protester who voiced his displeasure through a bullhorn.
Protesters also held signs reading “All Workers Are Essential” and “Death… is preferable to communism,” according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Capitol police estimated that around 1,500 attended the rally, which fell on the day that a stay-at-home order shuttering “non-essential” businesses was due to expire.
“Without effective treatments or a vaccine, the only way to slow the spread of COVID-19 is through non-pharmaceutical interventions,” Evers wrote, saying that the lockdown has been the primary intervention in Wisconsin and crediting it for significantly reducing the number of deaths.
“Relaxing the order before those measures are in place would be expected to result in a surge of cases,” he wrote.
“It’s working. We have flattened the curve here in Wisconsin and have prevented the death of at least 300 Wisconsinites, and perhaps as many as 1,400 lives,” he wrote on Facebook.
Evers and Department of Health Services acting Secretary Andrea Palm announced in a joint order (pdf) on April 16 that the state’s lockdown would be extended through May 26 “to prevent spikes in COVID-19 cases that could further strain our health care system and risk more lives.”
While much remains unknown about the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, the novel coronavirus that causes the respiratory disease COVID-19, it is highly contagious. The virus has spread quickly across the world, with a Johns Hopkins tally on Friday registering 2,736,979 confirmed infections and 192,125 deaths. The true case and death numbers are likely much higher due to such factors as asymptomatic infections, lack of testing, and underreporting by the Chinese communist regime.
As of April 24, according to Department of Health figures, a total of 5,356 people in Wisconsin had tested positive for the CCP virus, with 262 fatalities. Wisconsin has 5.8 million residents, meaning positive cases are around 0.09 percent of the state population.
“I understand that there is a pandemic going around, but we really need to realize that some of the measures they are putting into place are asinine, are ridiculous,” said Duncan Lemp, the president of the Wisconsin Second Amendment Coalition, who brought a long rifle to the protest.
Friday also saw Wisconsin take tentative first steps at reopening for business, with libraries and non-essential businesses like clothing stores now allowed to do curbside pickups.
Golf courses are also open for play in Wisconsin and lawn care businesses can begin operating if the work can be done by one person.