CORONAVIRUS

Protests Are Popping Up Across The U.S. Over Stay-At-Home Restrictions

Apr 17, 2020, 10:58 AM
Protesters outside the Statehouse Atrium during the State of Ohio's Coronavirus response update on ...
Protesters outside the Statehouse Atrium during the State of Ohio's Coronavirus response update on April 13 at the statehouse in Columbus. (Joshua A. Bickel/USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters)
(Joshua A. Bickel/USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters)

(CNN) — Protesters gathered in several state capitals this week to voice their opposition to stay-at-home orders issued to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Minnesota, North Carolina and Utah — states led by both Republican and Democratic governors — have all seen protests in recent days as people grow more concerned about the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

“A small segment of the state is protesting and that’s their right,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, told CNN. People are getting “stir crazy” at home, she said, and they’re worried about paying the bills.

“The sad part is, though, that the more they’re out and about, the more likely they are to spread Covid-19,” Whitmer said, “and the more likely we’re going to have to take this posture for a longer period of time.”

Michigan

Protesters in Whitmer’s state crowded the streets of the capital on Wednesday by staying in their cars. The action, dubbed “Operation Gridlock” by its organizers, choked Lansing with traffic for miles.

“I realize how important this virus is, but now we’re getting to the point where we’re shutting too much stuff down,” protester Tom Hughey, who said he has a small business and works for Ford Motor Company, told CNN affiliate WILX.

Whitmer has extended the state’s stay-home order through April 30. It includes restrictions like prohibiting most people from traveling between residences unless they’re taking care of a relative or dropping off a child.

But not everyone stayed in their cars, per WILX — some stood on the grounds of the state Capitol.

“I think every single person here is probably going to get coronavirus, we’re all within six feet of each other,” Nick Somber told WILX.

The Michigan Nurses Association issued a statement calling the protest “irresponsible” and saying it “sends exactly the opposite message that nurses and healthcare professionals are trying to get across: we are begging people, please stay home.”

Minnesota

Some protesters met Thursday outside the governor’s mansion in St. Paul to voice opposition to Democratic Gov. Tim Walz’s stay-home order, which has been extended through May 3.

A spokesperson for the protesters told CNN affiliate WCCO they were demonstrating because Minnesotans are suffering from financial setbacks and depression, among other issues.

The group believed residents can go back to work while continuing to fight the coronavirus, WCCO reported.

“The Governor has said that we can’t lose our democracy during this pandemic, and this extends to people exercising their First Amendment rights,” Walz’s office said in a statement. “We ask that for the health and safety of themselves, their families, and their fellow Minnesotans that those demonstrating exercise good social distancing behavior.”

Walz previously emphasized that expanding testing and tracing would be important before the state can reopen, saying both had to be done “on a massive scale.”

Kentucky

Protesters demonstrated in the Kentucky capital of Frankfort, where Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, had to speak over the noise during a news briefing Wednesday.

“We do have some folks up here in Kentucky today, saying we should reopen Kentucky immediately, right now,” Beshear said. “Folks, that would kill people. It would absolutely kill people.”

One protester told CNN affiliate WKYT that she agreed with Beshear’s measures at first, but had since changed her mind.

“I understand the need for caution,” she said, “but I think it’s gone way past, you know, anything reasonable.”

Protesters initially heeded social distancing, spacing out on the capitol grounds, according to WKYT. But that went out the window when they began chanting just outside the room where Beshear was holding his news briefing.

“Lot of fresh air out here. I don’t think I’m endangering anyone,” the woman told the station. “I think the governor is endangering a lot of people by not letting families work.”

Utah

One group protested in Washington County, where they declared Republican Gov. Gary Herbert’s restrictions unconstitutional, CNN affiliate KSL reported Wednesday.

“The government, at all levels, has overstepped its authority in their request to ‘protect’ Americans from a virus,” Mary Burkett, a Republican candidate for Utah’s 2nd congressional district who participated in the demonstration, said in a news release.

“The American citizen is perfectly capable of deciding how to best protect themselves,” she added.

According to KSL, protesters were asked to follow social distancing guidelines and were directed to demonstrate as individuals or families instead of in a large group.

The demonstration, which stemmed from a Facebook group called Utah Walk For Freedom, was meant to demand state and local restrictions be lifted “with appropriate precautions,” the group’s Facebook page said.

Herbert has extended the state’s “Stay Safe, Stay Home” directive through May 1, saying it is working.

“We cannot let up on these measures,” Herbert said in a news release last week, adding that slowing the spread of the virus will allow residents to get “back to work and to a level of normalcy more quickly.”

North Carolina

A group of protesters gathered in Raleigh on Tuesday — a demonstration that was in direct violation of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order, according to the Raleigh Police Department.

“We have God-given rights that are infringed upon right now, as we speak, every day that this state remains closed,” Ashley Smith, an organizer and business owner, told CNN affiliate WRAL.

Cooper said Wednesday the state needs to progress in testing and contact tracing in order to lift restrictions. He did not say whether he would extend his current restrictions, which prohibit gatherings of 10 or more people. The order is set to expire on April 29.

One participant, David Engstrom, told WRAL that “the economic disaster that’s going to happen … is going to be worse than any Covid-19 problems that we’ve had.”

At least one person was arrested by State Police, the Raleigh Police Department said on Twitter.

In a statement, the department cited the importance of the “health and wellness of all who live in our community, including the officers who must engage in circumstances such as these. We simply want everyone to be safe during this very serious public health crisis.”

Ohio

In Columbus, demonstrators also gathered outside the statehouse, where they were overheard during Gov. Mike DeWine’s briefing on Monday, CNN affiliate WSYX reported.

Demonstrators carried signs and bullhorns, chanting, “Reopen Ohio,” WSYX reported.

DeWine, a Republican, acknowledged critics’ frustration on Twitter Tuesday, saying, “I get it. But it’s not going to do businesses and employees any good if we get it wrong. If we get it wrong, we’ll have a medical mess and a mess in the economy. The best thing we can do is get this right.”

DeWine’s stay-at-home order is set to remain in place until May 1, and includes limiting the number of customers allowed inside stores deemed essential businesses.

There are more than 7,700 cases of coronavirus in the state, and at least 362 people have died.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Coronavirus

Representative Tricia Derges (Credit: Missouri House of Representatives)...
Associated Press

Missouri lawmaker resigns from House after fraud conviction for selling Covid treatments

A Missouri GOP legislator has resigned after being convicted of falsely claiming she was giving patients stem cell treatments for COVID-19.
1 day ago
FILE PHOTO (Photo by Jacob King - WPA Pool/Getty Images)...
MIKE STOBBE, AP Medical Writer

Moderna COVID-19 shots now an option for older kids in US

There is now a second COVID-19 option for kids ages 6 to 17 in the U.S.
10 days ago
Pfizer says it's COVID-19 vaccine is 100% effective in kids 12 to 15. (Justin Tallis-Pool/Getty Ima...
Jen Christensen, CNN

What are the COVID-19 vaccine side effects in young kids? Experts seek to ease parents’ concerns

Experts look at what side effects to expect from the COVID vaccine for children six months and older.
12 days ago
The Nurse Crisis and Patent Risk....
Debbie Worthen

Utah registered nurses are leaving the field, creating the ‘perfect storm’

"Without nurses, we can't have hospitals." Utah nurses are overworked and underpaid. Some say it's put people at risk.
13 days ago
Four-year-old Viola Fairfax-Panza Getting her COVID-19 vaccination, held by her mother Keke Fairfax...
Jed Boal

Salt Lake Co. distributes COVID vaccines for children 6-months and older

Salt Lake County begins COVID-19 vaccinations for children 6 months and older.
13 days ago
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about Covid-19 vaccines for children, in the Roosevelt Room of the ...
ZEKE MILLER and JOSH BOAK, Associated Press

Biden visits clinic, celebrates COVID shots for kids under 5

President Joe Biden is celebrating that virtually all Americans can now get a COVID-19 shot after the authorization of vaccines for kids under 5 over the weekend.
13 days ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Protests Are Popping Up Across The U.S. Over Stay-At-Home Restrictions