By Zeke Miller and Matt Sedensky
WASHINGTON (AP) — 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 coronavirus.
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, whose state is the most lethal hot spot in the nation and is still seeing over 600 deaths a day, 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 in what looked like one of the president’s rallies, with MAGA hats and Trump flags.
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 been critical of the federal government’s response to the crisis, 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 clash between Trump and Cuomo was personal, with the president complaining he hasn’t heard the governor say thanks for the help he has received from Washington. Cuomo countered by saying: “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, send a bouquet of flowers? `Thank you to the federal government for participating in a federal emergency.’”
Source: AP News