World, Americas

US: Hundreds protest virus measures in Pennsylvania

Bucking warnings, demonstrators in US state demand quick end to measures meant to stop novel coronavirus' spread

Michael Hernandez   | 20.04.2020
US: Hundreds protest virus measures in Pennsylvania FILE PHOTO

WASHINGTON

Hundreds of protesters flocked to the Pennsylvania state capitol Monday, demanding an end to state policies that have shuttered businesses and called on people to remain at home in an effort to control the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Many of those who gathered in close proximity to one another lacked face coverings or masks sought by the Trump administration, photos and videos shared on social media appear to show.

Among the assembled signs and banners were droves supporting U.S. President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly thrown his support behind similar demonstrations, despite the fact that they violate his social distancing guidance.

Several demonstrators held signs calling for businesses, such as bars and barber shops, to be reopened.

A large green big rig truck with "Jesus Is My Vaccine" scrawled on the front drove in support of the demonstrators, blasting its air horn in front of the state Capitol Building.

A handful of Republican state lawmakers joined those in attendance, pledging a rapid return to normalcy even as the state continues to find itself in the midst of the outbreak.

Pennsylvania has 32,902 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 1,276 deaths, according to data being compiled by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. It counts zero recoveries.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S.'s lead authority on infectious diseases and a member of Trump's coronavirus task force, warned earlier Monday against holding the demonstrations, saying they could "backfire" and actually slow the economic reopening sought by many in the country.

"Clearly this is something that is hurting from the standpoint of economics, from the standpoint of things that have nothing to do with the virus, but unless we get the virus under control, the real recovery, economically, is not going to happen," Fauci said on the Good Morning America television program after similar protests over the weekend.

Asked about demonstrations during his Sunday news conference, Trump said "As far as protesters, you know, I see protesters for all sorts of things."

"And I’m with everybody. I'm with everybody," he said, despite the fact that the gatherings are a violation of the guidelines he issued to reopen the U.S. economy.

"Some governors have gone too far. Some of the things that happened are maybe not so appropriate," he added.

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