Protesters denounce locking of US coronavirus, authorities call for caution

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HARRISBURG, Penn. (Reuters) – US debate over when to lift restrictions to stem the coronavirus epidemic intensified on Monday, with protesters describing the blockades as “tyranny” and health workers and officials describing them as a matter of life and death.

Demonstrators gather to protest the extension of the state home stay order to help slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the United States, April 20, 2020 REUTERS / Rachel Wisniewski

Home support measures, deemed essential by experts to slow the spread of the virus, have plunged the economy into a near dead end and forced more than 22 million people to apply for unemployment benefits in the past month.

In Pennsylvania, where Democratic Governor Tom Wolf pledged to veto a Republican-led General Assembly bill that would force him to reopen some businesses, several hundred protesters, some in cars , demonstrated in the capital Harrisburg.

Protesters who drove outside the capital honked for hours.

Many protesters expressed cynicism towards health experts and skepticism about the real scale of the pandemic in the country, accusing those responsible of spreading and taking action that has caused more harm than the virus himself.

“All the projections were wrong, but we always tell people to stay at home and businesses to close. It’s not quarantine, it’s tyranny, “said Mark Cooper, a 61-year-old retired truck driver.

Others have described home support measures in a whole new light. Yetta Timothy, who was part of a counter demonstration in Harrisburg, said that the retirement home where she worked had lost countless patients.

“They die every day,” said the 43-year-old nurse, crying and holding a sign that said, “My life is at stake.”

“I just can’t believe this is all happening, that they want to go back to work. “

President Donald Trump, a Republican seeking re-election in November, said state governors should have the last word, but helped bring an end to the blockages quickly, and many protesters over the past week have sported placards and campaign equipment in favor of Trump.

Republican lawmakers in several states also supported the protesters, some of whom did not wear face masks or engage in social distancing which health officials say is essential for controlling the virus.

Lawmakers in Washington were fighting over a possible $ 450 billion deal to provide more aid to small businesses and hospitals hit by the crisis. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said a vote could take place on Tuesday.]

Last month, Congress passed a $ 2.3 trillion aid package, including a small business loan program. The Trump administration wants to add $ 250 billion to this now exhausted program, while Democrats have lobbied to include funding for state and municipal governments and food aid for the poor.

FEAR OF RESURGENCE

Health experts and lawmakers on the front lines of the battle to end the pandemic, which started in China late last year, said the United States could face a second wave of infections. , or even more deadly, if the closings prematurely stopped.

The United States has by far the largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world, with more than 760,000 infections and more than 41,100 deaths, nearly half of which in New York State, according to a Reuters report. .

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, told ABC News that there will be no real economic recovery until authorities control the virus and jump firearm could result in a large increase in cases.

“It’s going to turn around, that’s the problem,” he said.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who became a national figure during the crisis, said that the reopening of the economy in New York and other parts of the country should be carefully calibrated to avoid another spike in cases .

“We have to pass the tests on a large scale,” Cuomo said, adding that he was aware that some people were unhappy that they had to wear masks or engage in social distancing. “It is not a matter of happiness – it is a matter of life and death. “

Earlier, New York mayor Bill de Blasio said it could take weeks, even months, before the country’s most populous city reopens due to lack of widespread testing.

Trump, who has spoken with a number of critical Democratic governors about his response to the health crisis, said there are enough tests for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.

In a series of tweets on Monday, Trump said governors had gone from complaining about the scarcity of fans to complaining about not having what they needed to step up testing, accusing them of “playing a very dangerous political game “

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said that more tests are the main item on the administration’s agenda.

Slideshow (24 Images)

Trump’s directives to reopen the economy recommend a 14-day state record of declining caseloads before gradually lifting restrictions.

Florida residents have been allowed to return to certain beaches after Governor Ron DeSantis approved the relaxation of certain restrictions.

Charlie Latham, Mayor of Jacksonville Beach, said that the beach was reopened there with limited hours, and that it went smoothly without any arrests for those violating social distancing rules that prohibited chairs and blankets .

Jarrett Renshaw’s report to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Joey Ax, Barbara Goldberg and Jessica Resnick-Ault in New York, and Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut and Doina Chiacu in Washington; Writing by Paul Simao; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Howard Goller

Our standards:Principles of the Thomson Reuters Trust.

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