Extremist Groups Tapping Into Anger Over Shutdown Measures As Protests Continue Across Country

Protesters are turning out in the streets to rally against governors’ stay-at-home measures, and state and local officials are trying to strike a balance of discouraging the gatherings while not inflaming concerns over civil liberties. More news is reported from Wyoming, Pennsylvania, Michigan and California.

As Protests Spread, States Tread Carefully To Avoid Inflaming Extremists

As enraged protesters swarm state capitols and prominent militia leaders boast about gathering in large numbers, states are doing little to crack down on the anti-government groups that are defying stay-at-home orders. Trackers say extremist groups of all types are using the pandemic to foment misinformation, stoke anger against the government or prepare to take advantage of breakdowns in society. Many of the protesters don’t belong to such groups. Nevertheless, state and local officials fear that any action to stop the demonstrations on public health grounds could inflame radicals who have a broader anti-government agenda. (Brown, 4/21)

As Protesters Decry U.S. Coronavirus Lockdown, Officials Urge Caution

The U.S. debate over restrictions for fighting the coronavirus intensified on Monday, as protesters labeled mandatory lockdowns as “tyranny,” while medical workers and health experts cautioned that lifting them too soon risked unleashing a greater disaster. With health authorities and many governors warning that far more testing is needed before the U.S. economy can be safely reopened, New York state launched the nation’s most ambitious effort yet to screen the general population for exposure to the virus. (Renshaw, 4/20)

U.S. Coronavirus Deaths Top 42,000 As Protesters Demand Restrictions End: Reuters Tally

U.S. coronavirus deaths topped 42,000 on Monday, according to a Reuters tally, as more protesters gathered in state capitals to demand an early end to the lockdowns, while officials pleaded for patience until more testing becomes available. Stay-at-home measures, which experts say are essential to slow the spread of the respiratory virus, have ground the economy to a standstill and forced more than 22 million people to apply for unemployment benefits in the last month. (Shumaker, 4/20)

The Hill:
Trump Support For Protests Threatens To Undermine Social Distancing Rules 

President Trump is sending conflicting signals on social distancing restrictions, backing federal guidelines that leave decisions to governors, while at the same time offering public support for protests of Democratic governors. Trump for three straight days has backed demonstrators protesting state restrictions, ratcheting up already high tensions with state governors and cutting against the White House’s own recommendations for a gradual reopening of business. (Chalfant and Samuels, 4/20)

ABC News:
Governors Dealing With Protests Ask Pence For Help Keeping People Home, Access To Testing Gear 

Two governors facing protests against their stay-at-home orders amid the coronavirus pandemic on Monday asked the White House for help keeping people home, after President Donald Trump had voiced support for the demonstrators. After Trump both said it was up to governors how and when to implement or lift the orders — but then criticized governors he said had gone too far — the governors of Michigan and North Carolina asked Vice President Mike Pence to reiterate the need for social distancing, and Pence agreed to “make a point” to do so. (Faulders and Gittleson, 4/20)

The Washington Post:
Coronavirus Has Largely Spared Wyoming, So Far. Amid Protests To Open Up, Some Worry The Worst Is Yet To Come.

A steer skull decorated in turquoise gemstones greets visitors inside Teton Jewelers on West 17th Street, the lone jewelry store in the small shopping district here. Standing behind it is Ken Bingham, 67, slim and bald and packing a loaded .410 revolver capable of shooting shotgun shells. He says he’s taking nearly every precaution against the novel coronavirus. Bingham’s wife, who recently finished chemotherapy, hasn’t been within six feet of him in a month. (Klemko, 4/20)

Anti-Quarantine Protest Draws Crowd In Harrisburg, Pa., But Gov. Keeps Stay-Home Plan

A large crowd of demonstrators gathered in Harrisburg, Pa., Monday, honking horns, carrying signs and waving American flags near the state capitol as part of a backlash against social-distancing orders to control the spread of the coronavirus. A counterprotest drew a smaller crowd. Hours after the protesters dispersed, Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, announced he was lengthening the state’s stay-at-home order until May 8. The order was previously set to expire on April 30. (Booker, 4/20)

Sacramento Bee:
CA Vaccine Activists Protest Gavin Newsom Coronavirus Order

Gov. Gavin Newsom has issued an order banning large gatherings because of the coronavirus crisis, and Sacramento-area law enforcement officials warned last week that they will start citing people who violate the ban. So why would state Capitol officials approve a Monday protest against stay-at-home orders that was advertised as attracting as many as 500 people? (Stanton and Wiley, 4/20)

The Hill:
Poll: 74 Percent Of Voters Concerned About Losing Freedoms Due To COVID-19 

More than 7 in 10 voters fear losing freedoms due to the coronavirus pandemic, though exposure to the virus topped concerns overall, according to a Hill-HarrisX poll released Monday. Eighty-three percent of registered voters in the April 6-7 survey said they are worried about being exposed to the coronavirus, while 74 percent said they are concerned about losing freedoms. Seventy-three percent said they fear having to go to the hospital and 48 percent of voters said they are concerned about losing their job. Thirty-five percent said they are concerned about having to re-locate due to pandemic. (4/20)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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