More than a month into the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., many demonstrators around the country took to the streets this weekend, demanding an end to shelter-in-place orders and other lockdown protocols. The protestors rebuked social distancing, self isolation and other preventative measures, saying that they would rather have businesses reopen — even at the risk of mass deaths. Some supported conspiracy theories as well, claiming that COVID-19 does not exist at all, or that it has been politicized.
New coronavirus cases are still on the rise in the U.S., with over 770,000 confirmed cases at the time of this writing. The country has seen 41,114 deaths, with over 70,700 confirmed recoveries. Experts say that this is far from the end — the virus will continue to spread in waves, and action must be taken to mitigate its spread so that the healthcare system does not become overwhelmed handling a massive influx of patients.
Demonstrators in Colorado, Florida and other parts of the country denied expert advice from the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization this weekend. They showed out in force, demanding that public officials allow businesses to reopen. Many sported signs with ironic slogans like "I need a haircut," though as they circulated online, they did not get a lot of laughs from a country mourning the casualties of the virus.
In Denver, Colorado, protesters were met by a counter-demonstration from health care workers, who stood in the street to block traffic, according to a report by NBC News. One protester shouted: "go to China if you want communism" at the nurse blocking their truck.
Meanwhile, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones joined protesters in Austin, Texas, where he was seen shaking hands, hugging strangers and calling the coronavirus a hoax. Jones also called for the White House coronavirus task force's Dr. Anthony Fauci to be fired, while his followers labeled Fauci a "fascist."
It is not clear if these various demonstrations were given permits by their local governments, and if so what restrictions might have been on them. However, it was clear that protesters were generally not observing social distancing protocol, and in most photos, police did not intervene in their gatherings.
Experts say that social distancing is still the best way to slow the spread of coronavirus, and prevent potentially thousands of deaths. Visit the CDC's website for more details on the plan for countering this public health threat. Meanwhile, here are photos from anti-lockdown protests around the country this weekend.
Alex Jones arrived to a "You Can't Close America Rally" and the 300 or so protestors, most not wearing face masks, swarmed around him as he proclaimed the COVID-19 pandemic a hoax. #Texas #Coronavirus pic.twitter.com/8e3JuObj86— Nick Wagner (@WagsPhoto) April 18, 2020
Alex Jones shaking hands w/protestors not wearing masks. Protesters called pandemic a joke & Dr. Fauci a fascist. This MUST stop immediately.
A SLAP in the face to ALL Frontline workers & every American who has sacrificed their lives in last month! 😡💔pic.twitter.com/vTV3zQ1KXz— Peter Morley (@morethanmySLE) April 19, 2020
Healthcare Workers Counter-Protest
NOT ALL SUPERHEROES WEAR CAPES!
These healthcare providers are using their bodies to send a clear message to the “Operation Gridlock” protestors in Denver!
MAKE THIS GO VIRAL! (Photo Credit: Alyson McClaran) pic.twitter.com/9WJAnpPw2d— Tay Anderson (@TayAndersonCO) April 20, 2020
Against the Glass
This photo gives me chills.
Protestors outside Ohio’s Statehouse because of the #StayAtHomeOrder.April 15, 2020
Protesters in Austin, TX called for the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to be ousted as they pressured Governor Greg Abbott to ease #coronavirus restrictions pic.twitter.com/jTozHLKKI9— QuickTake by Bloomberg (@QuickTake) April 20, 2020