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 promised to veto a Republican bill that would force him to reopen certain businesses, a few hundred protesters, mostly by car, held a demonstration in the capital Harrisburg .
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.
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 are essential for controlling the virus.
Joe Buchert, 48, a retired police officer who lives in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, attended the Harrisburg demonstration because he thinks the governor has gone over the line.
“Democratic governors are just trying to kill the economy to hurt Trump,” said Buchert, who wore a 2020 Trump red hat.
Congressional lawmakers in Washington were close to agreeing on additional funds to help small businesses hit by the pandemic, a senior Republican lawmaker said. The Trump administration sought to add $ 250 billion to a small business loan program launched last month as part of a $ 2.3 trillion coronavirus economic rescue plan. This fund is already exhausted.
FEAR OF RESURGENCE
Health experts and lawmakers on the front lines of the battle to contain the pandemic have warned that the country could face an even more deadly second wave of infections if the closures end prematurely.
The United States has by far the largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world, with more than 753,000 infections and more than 41,100 deaths, nearly half of which in New York State, according to a Reuters report. .
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said testing capacity should be increased and that the reopening of the economy in New York and other parts of the country should be carefully calibrated to avoid a further spike in cases.
“You don’t need demonstrations to convince anyone in this country that we have to go back to work and that we have to kick-start the economy and we have to get out of here. No one, “Cuomo said in a briefing. “The question will become: how, when, how quickly and what do we mean in terms of reopening. “
Earlier, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said it could take weeks, even months, before the country’s most populous city reopens due to a lack of widespread testing, even as officials elsewhere began to lift restrictions on daily life.
“The federal government is not stepping up,” de Blasio said at a press conference. He said the city would have to run hundreds of thousands of tests a day and see hospitalizations decline further before reopening the economy.
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 new coronavirus.
In a series of tweets on Monday, Trump said governors had gone from complaining about a shortage of fans to complaining about not having what they needed to increase testing capacity.
“Now they’re shouting ‘Test, test, test’, playing a very dangerous political game again. The states, not the federal government, should do the testing – but we will work with the governors and we will. “
White House Advisor Kellyanne Conway said administration is focused on the issue of testing and Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the White House response to the crisis, discussed it with governors on Monday .
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 .
“We thought the public was ready to maintain the standards of social distancing and exercise good judgment. And it paid off, it’s really well paid, “Latham told Fox News.
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.