'LIBERATE!': Trump pushes states to lift virus ...


(Liberty Headlines) A day after laying out a roadmap for gradually reviving economic activity, President Donald Trump urged his supporters to “LIBERATE” three states led by Democratic governors Friday, in effect encouraging protests against the stay-at-home restrictions aimed at containing the Wuhan virus.

The president took to Twitter with the kind of rhetoric some of his supporters have used to demand the lifting of the orders that have thrown millions of Americans out of work.

“LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” “LIBERATE VIRGINIA,” Trump said in a tweet-storm in which he also lashed out at New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for criticizing the federal response. Cuomo “should spend more time `doing’ and less time `complaining,’” he said, adding: ”Less talk and more action!”

Responding to pleas from some governors for help in ramping up testing for the virus, Trump put the burden on them, tweeting: “The States have to step up their TESTING!”

On Thursday, the president detailed a three-step set of guidelines for methodically easing the restrictions over a span of several weeks in places that have robust testing and are seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases, assuring the nation’s governors: “You’re going to call your own shots.”

But some governors made it clear they are not ready to break out the roadmap, saying they badly need help from Washington in expanding testing.

Cuomo accused the federal government of “passing the buck without passing the bucks.”

“The federal government cannot wipe its hands of this and say, `Oh, the states are responsible for testing.′ We cannot do it. We cannot do it without federal help,” the governor said.

Many Americans, especially in rural areas and other parts of the country that have not seen major outbreaks, have urged governors to reopen their economies. Protesters have taken to the streets in Ohio, Texas, North Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia and Michigan, where more than 3,000 turned out on Wednesday.

The protests have brought together small-government groups, anti-vaccine advocates, gun rights backers and supporters of right-wing causes.

Public health experts have warned that lifting the restrictions too soon could enable the virus to come back with a vengeance. And they have said that an easing of the stay-at-home measures must be accompanied by wider testing and tracing of infected people to keep the scourge in check.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat who has received sharp criticism from leaders of both major political parties about her excessive mandates in the shutdown of her state, said that she hopes to begin reopening parts of the state’s economy May 1, but that it would be done in “smart way” to avoid a second wave of infections..

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, announced he was extending the state’s stay-at-home order through May 3 but planned to gradually begin lifting restrictions after that.

The number of people applying for unemployment benefits in the U.S. rose by 5.2 million, bringing the four-week total to a staggering 22 million. U.S. unemployment could reach 20% in April, the highest since the Depression of the 1930s. Layoffs are spreading well beyond stores, restaurants and hotels to white-collar professionals such as software programmers and legal assistants.

Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.