Donald Trump on Tuesday insisted that anti-lockdown protesters are social distancing, despite clear evidence to the contrary, as he dismissed the CDC chief for calling them ‘unhelpful’, arguing that ‘they want their lives back’.
The president told reporters at his daily briefing: ‘I’ve watched some of the protests, not in great detail, but I’ve seen that and they’re separated, a lot of space in between.’
Thousands of protesters took to the streets of North Carolina, Missouri, Alabama and Florida to demand governors bring an end to coronavirus lockdown rules and reopen the states for business on Tuesday.
They were pictured standing close by to one another, disregarding the social distancing rules that health experts insist are critical to saving lives amid the deadly outbreak.
Trump said: ‘They’re watching, believe it or not, they’re doing social distancing, if you can believe it and they are. And they’re protesting and the groups I’ve seen have been very much spread out so I think that’s good.’
The president had last week supported the protesters, calling them ‘very responsible people’. He said Sunday that he saw protesters that looked to adhering to the measures and standing six feet apart.
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Tuesday a second wave of coronavirus next winter could be ‘even more difficult’.
Robert Redfield warned the ‘assault on our nation’ could potentially be ‘even more difficult than the one we just went through’. He labeled anti lockdown protests as ‘not helpful’.
But the president hit back, saying: ‘Look, it’s not a question of helpful or not, people want to get back to work, they want to make a living. They have to take care of their family. They don’t want to do this.
‘It’s unfortunate, but you have a lot of people that are anxious to get back. We have to build back our country. People have really been through a lot.’ Of a second wave Trump said: ‘I really believe we will be able to put out the fires. It’s like fires. And we’ve learned a lot.’
Donald Trump, pictured, on Tuesday insisted that anti-lockdown protesters are social distancing despite clear evidence to the contrary, as he dismissed the CDC chief for calling them ‘unhelpful’, arguing that ‘they want their lives back’
People hold up signs saying ‘Fauci is corrupt’, ‘Enough is enough’ and ‘A man chooses, a slave obeys’
Raleigh, North Carolina: Police bikes are seen at the front of crowds in Raleigh. Hundreds are packed into the roads, with social distancing totally disregarded
Hundreds of protesters have taken to the streets for a second week in a row to demand Governor Roy Cooper brings an end to the state’s coronavirus lockdown rules and reopens the state for business
Trump sparked anger from Democrat governors Friday when he made a series of Tweets calling for liberation for states – one day after he said he would leave the decision to reopen states in the hands of individual governors.
He tweeted ‘Liberate Minnesota’ Friday before following it up with similar tweets for Michigan and Virginia.
All three states that Trump singled out have Democratic governors – and are potentially swing states in the 2020 election.
Trump last week gave the nation’s governors his roadmap for how the US can reopen businesses and schools shut down by the coronavirus.
Protesters marched on downtown Raleigh in North Carolina throughout the day, gathering outside the General Assembly from 11am and filling Lane Street.
The ReOpenNC protest began just minutes after the state announced that another 34 people have been killed by coronavirus, marking the deadliest day North Carolina has so far seen during the pandemic.
This marked the second week of protests in North Carolina, with Tuesday’s event drawing a larger crowd of around 1,000 at its peak and political leaders joining in.
Protesters were seen flouting social distancing altogether Tuesday, with people packing much closer together than the six feet guidelines and ignoring health warnings to wear masks.
Governor Roy Cooper earlier said residents have a right to protest after State Capitol Police arrested a woman at last week’s march.
But he said protesters must practice social distancing while doing so in line with his executive order.
Instead of protective gear, many carried Trump 2020 paraphernalia including hats, flags, and T-shirts as well as merchandise promoting Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who has been eyeing the state governor’s job.
Others held signs accusing Dr Anthony Fauci, the government’s infectious disease expert, ‘corrupt’. Others said: ‘No Fauci, No Gates, No Fear’.
Some organizers claimed the protest was bipartisan but the sea of Republican and ‘MAGA’ propaganda – along with shouts against Democratic House speaker Nancy Pelosi – suggested the crowd was predominantly right-wing.
One sign read: ‘Investigate COVID and 5G’. Conspiracy theorists have wrongly speculated that the 5G mobile network created the virus.
The death toll in the U.S. stood at more than 44,000 Tuesday evening — the highest in the world — with more than 800,000 confirmed infections.
The true figures are believed to be much higher, in part because of limited testing and difficulties in counting the dead.
Protesters marched on downtown Raleigh throughout the day, gathering outside the General Assembly from 11a.m. and filling Lane Street
This marked the second week of protests in North Carolina, with Tuesday’s event drawing a larger crowd of around 1,000 at its peak and political leaders joining in
Republican Representative Dan Bishop of North Carolina’s Ninth District was pictured in the crowd wearing a mask, which he sometimes removed, while carrying a bottle of hand sanitizer and copies of the Constitution.
‘I’m definitely going to deliver this to Roy Cooper because he’s forgotten what it’s about,’ Bishop told The News & Observer.
Protesters are demanding the state lockdown comes to an end, claiming it takes away their liberty and that businesses are being damaged beyond repair.
Governor Cooper earlier said residents have a right to protest but they must practice social distancing while doing so in line with his executive order. But protesters were seen flouting social distancing altogether, with people packing much closer together than the six feet guidelines and most ignoring health warnings to wear masks
Protesters hold up banners with slogans including ‘No mandatory vaccines’, ‘Reopen NC!!’ and ‘Freedoms are essential’
They held up banners with slogans including ‘Freedoms are essential’, ‘Rights are not an option’ and ‘Everyone here knows the truth except the Democrats!’
Other signs read: ‘Enough is enough’ and ‘A man chooses, a slave obeys’.
Cars with ‘Make America Safe Again! Trump 2020’ rode down the streets blasting horns and drivers shouted from their open windows.
Some passengers seemed to be enjoying themselves with a woman pictured beaming as she stuck her head out of a car sunroof and gave a thumbs up to the crowds.
Many marchers brought their children along – also without face masks, placing them at risk of exposure to the virus.
One woman who said her family’s roofing business has been hard-hit due to mass closures had brought her four young children along to the protest.
She told The News & Observer that she was leaving it up to God if her family contracted the killer virus.
‘Our faith is in God,’ said Tabitha Dawes. ‘If we get it, we get it.’
A group of healthcare workers gathered in their scrubs to counter-protest the calls for re-opening, with one pharmacist telling The News & Observer they were ‘very concerned’ that the outbreak could worsen if the state reopens too soon.
‘I’m very concerned that we’re opening North Carolina too early,’ said Nicholas Blanchard. ‘I’m here to try and get people to understand that this is a problem. I want people to follow the science and not their emotions.’
Protesters are demanding the state lockdown comes to an end, claiming it takes away their liberty and that businesses are being damaged beyond repair
Instead of protective gear, many carried Trump 2020 paraphernalia including hats, flags, and T-shirts as well as merchandise promoting Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who has been eyeing the state governor’s job
Some organizers claimed the protest was bipartisan but the sea of Republican and ‘MAGA’ propaganda – along with shouts against Democratic House speaker Nancy Pelosi – suggested the crowd was predominantly right-wing
As demonstrators flocked to the streets demanding it is time to reopen the state, official figures suggest North Carolina may not be out of the woods yet.
Its death toll rose by another 34 people Tuesday morning taking the total to 235, and marking the deadliest day North Carolina has so far seen during the pandemic.
Confirmed cases reached 7,099 after another 187 also tested positive for the infection.
Cooper said in a press conference in the afternoon that he understood people were ‘frustrated’ with the lockdown but that the measures to slow the spread of the virus have been working.
‘I know that many people are frustrated, restless, anxious, and eager to get back to work and school. I also know that many people want to make sure that their families are as safe as possible from this virus,’ he said.
Under mounting pressure from people wanting to get back to work, Cooper also issued a new executive order Tuesday to help people out of jobs due to the pandemic.
Under the new order, furloughed workers will now be able to claim unemployment benefits.
One man holds up a banner saying ‘Let us out’ amid swathes of people packed in together in Raleigh
A group of healthcare workers gathered in their scrubs to counter-protest the calls for re-opening
One pharmacist told The News & Observer they were ‘very concerned’ that the outbreak could worsen if the state reopens too soon. Counter-protesters stand as people with ReopenNC demonstrate in Raleigh, N.C., to press Gov. Roy Cooper to allow businesses to reopen during the COVID-19 outbreak
Protests also took place in Missouri and Alabama Tuesday with crowds descending on the governors’ official residences to push back against lockdown.
Crowds flooded an area in Jefferson City, Missouri, and marched past Governor Mike Parson’s mansion to protest against his stay-at-home order.
The Reopen Missouri protesters are calling for ‘everyone over 70 and anyone with serious underlying health conditions to hunker down more than they have been,’ while healthy individuals should return to work, the group’s Facebook page states.
Over in Alabama, a group called Stand Up Alabama led a car rally called ‘Operation Back to Work’ demanding businesses are allowed to get back up and running.
The uproar comes as Governor Kay Ivey said she intends to keep the stay-at-home order in place through April 30, striking a more measured approach while some Southern states push to quickly reopen.
The protest was set up by grassroots organization Reopen NC and aims to put pressure on Governor Cooper
Police officers wear masks during Tuesday’s protest. As demonstrations ramp up, they signify a growing sentiment among aggrieved workers that the country must resume its economic activity sooner rather than later
Protesters planned to drive vehicles along a designated route, but Tuesday morning Montgomery Police Captain Regina Duckett ordered the closure of some streets to prevent the move.
Instead, some were pictured riding horseback through Dexter Avenue in downtown Montgomery.
Similar protests have taken place across the US over the last week, largely in Republican states and egged on by President Trump.
Tennessee, Oregon, Illinois, California, Montana, Michigan, Minnesota, Colorado and Washington State have all seen demonstrations from protesters demanding an end to state shutdowns.
In Colorado, on Sunday, demonstrators flocked to the state Capitol in their hundreds to urge Governor Jared Polis to lift stay-at-home orders.
Titled ‘Operation Gridlock’, the day’s largest demonstration took place in Denver, where protesters waved flags with slogans such as ‘Your ‘health’ does not supersede my right’, ‘Freedom over fear’, and ‘I would rather risk coronavirus than socialism’ after being summoned on social media.
One person’s sign says ‘I need a haircut’ as people – in Trump merchandise and American flags – demand businesses reopen
A video captured a woman hurling racists remarks at a nurse counter-protesting the march.
‘This is a free country. Land of the free,’ she yelled at him, pulling out a homemade poster displaying those very words.
‘Go to China if you want communism. Go to China.’
By Monday morning, the video had gone viral on social media and ‘Go to China’ was trending on Twitter in the US as users expressed disgust over the woman’s remarks.
This followed scenes in Minnesota where around 400 people descended on Governor Tim Walz’s St. Paul residence Thursday and Friday.
Walz slammed the actions of protesters and urged them to social distance.
‘If they’re protesting staying at home, they’re protesting first responders too,’ he said.
As the protests expand across the nation, they signify a growing sentiment among aggrieved workers that the country must resume its economic activity sooner rather than later – even in spite of the fact that US coronavirus deaths and infections continue to mount.
North Carolina residents march through the streets as Governor Cooper announced new efforts to support people furloughed during the pandemic
‘A little rebellion now and then is a good thing’ read one woman’s banner while another held a mini book of the Constitution
People hold signs as they walk past the governor’s mansion in Jefferson City, Missouri, Tuesday – with very few wearing face masks
Jacksonville, Florida: A group of people gathered at the Duval County Courthouse to rally for re-opening parts of Florida and the country that have been closed because of the coronavirus Tuesday
Susan Callahan, a nurse, gathered with a group of people at the Duval County Courthouse to rally for re-opening parts of Florida and the country that have been closed because of the coronavirus
A group of people gathered at the Duval County Courthouse to rally for re-opening parts of Florida and the country that have been closed because of the coronavirus Tuesday
Heath experts and governors have continuously warned that reopening states too soon could lead to higher fatalities and renewed outbreaks of the virus.
But President Trump has repeatedly encouraged protesters, even praising their actions during his Sunday White House briefing.
‘I’ve seen the people. I’ve seen interviews of the people. These are great people, Trump said. ‘They’ve got cabin fever. They want their lives back.’
The president rejected the assertion that he was inciting violence with his words of encouragement, as one reporter pointed out that governors around the country were seeing an uptick in death threats.
‘No, I am not. I’ve never seen so many American flags,’ Trump said. ‘These people love our country. They want to get back to work.’
The new three-phase guidelines are aimed at easing restrictions in areas with low transmission of the coronavirus, while holding the line in harder-hit locations like New York.
Some states including Texas, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee have started relaxing lockdown rules.
Texas was the first state to begin reopening Monday.
Georgia will reopen some businesses as early as Friday and Tennessee businesses can open again next week.
Montgomery, Alabama: Protesters ride horseback through Dexter Avenue in downtown Montgomery, Alabama, Tuesday
South Carolina permitted some stores – including sporting goods shops and department stores – to reopen at 5pm Monday with social-distancing measures in place and beaches opening Tuesday.
Some states, like hard-hit New York, had already committed this week to extending lockdown measures into at least mid-May prior to Trump’s recommendations.
About 95 percent of the country currently remains on some form of lockdown in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Seven states – Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming – still have no stay-at-home orders in place for its residents.
The US continues to be the epicenter of the pandemic, with over 812,000 cases and 44,000 deaths.