Texas on Saturday became the latest U.S. state hit by a protest largely from supporters of President Donald Trump anxious to get back to work, while the governor of New York said his coronavirus-battered state may finally be past the worst of the health crisis there.
Protesters, many wearing Trump hats and shirts but not protective face masks, gathered in the Texas capitol Austin on Saturday chanting “USA! USA!” and “Let us work!”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, on Friday extended school closures in his state through the end of the academic year.
Earlier this week, similar protests erupted in the capitols of Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia.
The demonstrations, which also featured large crowds of people neither practicing social distancing nor wearing face coverings, angered governors who have been trying to bring coronavirus outbreaks under control.
Also angering those governors, all Democrats, were a series of Twitter posts on Friday by the Republican president – “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” and “LIBERATE VIRGINIA!” – that appeared to be egging on the protests.
While Trump agitates to get the country back up and running sooner rather than later as he faces re-election in November, the Pentagon announced on Saturday it was extending travel restrictions for its personnel until the end of June.
New York, epicenter of the U.S. epidemic, on Saturday reported another 540 coronavirus-related deaths for April 17, the lowest daily tally since April 1. While that was down from 630 a day earlier, it still represented hundreds more families who lost a loved one to COVID-19, the highly contagious illness caused by the virus, in a single day in one state.
The number of patients requiring intensive care and ventilators to help them breathe as the virus attacks their lungs was also down in New York.