Thousands of people are preparing to attend protests across the US in the coming days, as a rightwing movement against stay-at-home orders, backed by wealthy conservative groups and promoted by Donald Trump, continues to take hold.
Conservative activists are demanding governors lift orders designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus, despite the recommendations of public health officials. Trump, who has clashed with Democratic governors over how soon to reopen the US economy, tweeted his support on Friday, in an unprecedented endorsement of civil disobedience by a sitting president.
Many of the planned rallies have been inspired by a protest at the Michigan state capitol on Wednesday, which was attended by thousands.
President Donald Trump has defended tweets in which he appeared to endorse protests against stringent lockdown measures in several US states.
At his Friday briefing, he said some measures imposed by Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia had been "too tough".
Earlier, he wrote in a series of tweets: "LIBERATE MINNESOTA", "LIBERATE MICHIGAN" and then "LIBERATE VIRGINIA".
On CNN this morning, former Michigan Democratic governor Jennifer Granholm said of right restrictions: “She doesn't want to do them but she wants to protect the people of the state - Democrat and Republican. She is not going to [relax] while people’s lives are at stake. ”
Granholm criticized protesters for not keeping physical distance, handing out candy to children, without wearing face masks or gloves, and by clogging traffic “blocking amblances from getting to the hospital,” she said.
New York governor Andrew Cuomo says the net change in total hospitalizations are down over the last three days. ICU admissions are down, as are intubations across the state.
More worryingly, there were 2,000 new hospitalizations yesterday.
“That is still an overwhelming number every day,” Cuomo says at the top of his daily briefing from Albany. “We’re not at the peak but this is where we were in late March.”
He adds there were 540 deaths in the past 24-hour period, down from 630 the day before: “It’s not as high as it was, but still: 540 people died yesterday.”