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A group of angry demonstrators amassed Wednesday outside the state capitol building in Kentucky to voice their disdain for the closing of non-essential businesses to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus as Gov. Andy Beshear was inside the building making an announcement on the number of new deaths related to COVID-19.
Holding signs that read “Our Businesses Pay Your Bills!!! Reopen Ky” and “China has declared war/Kick butt/Open doors,” a few dozen protestors gathered outside the capitol building in Frankfurt to express their displeasure with Beshear, a Democrat, for the shuttering of businesses during the pandemic. Social media posts showed protesters chanting “We want to work.”
The protest, which was one of many across the country recently as some Americans become angered at the state’s lockdown orders which, while helping prevent the spread of COVID-19, has sent the economy into a tailspin, came as Beshear announced 88 new confirmed cases of the disease and seven more deaths related to the coronavirus in the Blue Grass state.
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Inside the capitol building where he was giving his briefing, Beshear recognized the protestors by saying that “everybody should be able to express their opinion,” but added that “Hopefully [the protesters] are distanced from each other … no one should be engaged in a mass gathering,” according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.
“If they’re not social distancing, they’re spreading the coronavirus, and that’s really concerning,” he added.
The governor also acknowledged that many people in his state want him to reopen businesses, but said that at the current time doing so “would kill people. It would absolutely kill people.”
“There will always be people who object,” he said. “My job isn’t to make the popular decision, but the right decision.”
The protest in Kentucky was one of a number that have taken place around the country as anxious Americans voice the concern of President Trump that “the cure” can’t be worse than the virus.
Also on Wednesday, hundreds of cars, trucks and SUVs descended on Michigan’s state capital as part of a noisy protest against Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s social-distancing restrictions that critics say have gone too far.
Dubbed “Operation Gridlock” and organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition, the protest did just that – creating bumper-to-bumper traffic throughout downtown Lansing as demonstrators blasted their horns, waved Americans flags and hoisted placards deriding Whitmer’s orders and demanding that she reopen the state’s economy.
Last Thursday, dozens of protesters carrying placards and wearing Guy Fawkes masks ignored Ohio’s social-distancing guidelines to demonstrate on the steps of the state’s capital building in Columbus against Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, and his administration’s handling of the outbreak. Demonstrators held signs reading “Open Ohio,” “Quarantine worse than virus,” and “Social distancing or social conditioning. We do not consent.”
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In Wyoming, about 20 gathered last week in a park in Casper to protest the government-mandated measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus and let people go back to work, while a Facebook group called “ReOpen NC” has brought in over 21,000 members since it launched last Tuesday; it’s planning to gather in protest later this week.
A protest against the lockdown in Virginia took place on Thursday and other similar protests are scheduled in Maryland, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New York and New Hampshire.
There are more than 645,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the U.S. as of Thursday afternoon, with over 29,000 deaths. While Trump on Wednesday said during a press briefing that the U.S. has passed the peak in the number of cases, governors across the country are moving cautiously to reopen their economies amid fears that doing so too quickly could cause a second wave of infections.
Beshear said he is working with the governors in neighboring Ohio and Indiana to come up with a plan for how the states will coordinate and “eventually ease restrictions and open up the economy,” but cautioned residents that the virus is still “incredibly contagious.”
He added: “It is all around this commonwealth. It is in every county, whether we’ve had a report or not.”