(Liberty Headlines) Stores in Texas can soon begin selling merchandise with curbside service, and hospitals can resume nonessential surgeries.
In Florida, people are returning to beaches and parks. And protesters are clamoring for more.
Governors eager to rescue their economies and feeling heat from President Donald Trump are moving to ease restrictions on civil liberties that were meant to control the spread of the coronavirus.
Adding to the pressure are protests against stay-at-home orders organized by small-government groups and Trump supporters..
They staged demonstrations Saturday in several cities after the president urged them to “liberate” three states led by Democratic governors.
Protests happened in Republican-led states, too, including at the Texas Capitol and in front of the Indiana governor’s home.
Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott already said that restrictions will begin easing next week.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb — who signed an agreement with six other Midwestern states to coordinate reopening — said he would extend his stay-at-home order until May 1.
Meanwhile, infections kept surging in the Northeast.
Rhode Island, between the hot spots of Massachusetts and New York, has seen a steady daily increase in infections and deaths, with nursing home residents accounting for more than 90 of the state’s 118 deaths.
The state’s death rate of around 10 people per 100,000 is among the nation’s highest per capita, according to data compiled by the COVID Tracking Project.
Massachusetts had its highest number of deaths in a single day on Friday, with 159. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, citing the advice of health experts, said states should wait until infection rates and hospitalizations decline for about two weeks before acting.
Trump, whose administration waited months to bolster stockpiles of key medical supplies and equipment, appeared to back protesters.
“LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, ” Trump said in a tweet-storm in which he also criticized New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, for condemning the federal response.
Cuomo “should spend more time ‘doing’ and less time ‘complaining,’” the president said.
At his Saturday briefing with reporters, Cuomo cited more progress. The daily increase in deaths in New York state fell below 550 for the first time in more than two weeks as hospitalizations continued to decline.
But the crisis is far from over: Hospitals are still reporting nearly 2,000 new COVID-19 patients per day, and nursing homes remain a “feeding frenzy for this virus,” he said.
“We are not at a point when we are going to be reopening anything immediately,” Cuomo said.
In Texas, several hundred people rallied on steps of the state Capitol to call for an end to social restrictions.
Many protesters sought an immediate lifting of restrictions and chanted “Let us work!” in a state where more than 1 million people have filed for unemployment since the crisis began.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press.