Refuse Fascism supporters hold signs during an anti-Trump protest in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. AFP
Hundreds protested Saturday in cities across America against coronavirus-related lockdowns — with encouragement from President Donald Trump — as resentment grows against the crippling economic cost of confinement.
An estimated 400 people gathered under a cold rain in Concord, New Hampshire — many on foot while others remained in their cars — to send a message that extended quarantines were not necessary in a state with relatively few confirmed cases of COVID-19.
The crowd included several armed men wearing military-style uniforms, with their faces covered.
In Texas, more than 250 people rallied outside the State Capitol in Austin, including far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, founder of the Infowars site, who rolled up in a tank-like truck.
"It's time to reopen Texas, it's time to let people work, it's time for them to let voluntary interaction and good sense rule the day, not government force," said Justin Greiss, an activist with Young Americans for Liberty.
Stay-at-home mother Amira Abuzeid added: "I'm not a doctor but I'm an intelligent person who can do math and it looks like at the end of the day, these numbers are not that worrisome."
Few if any observed social distancing recommendations.
Demonstrators outside Maryland's colonial-era statehouse in Annapolis stayed in their cars but waved signs with messages like "Poverty kills too."
Dolores, a hairdresser, told AFP she is not eligible for unemployment because she is a business owner, not an employee.
"I need to save my business. I need to work to live. Otherwise I will die," she said.
Other demonstrations took place across the country in cities such as Columbus, Ohio and San Diego, California, as well as the states of Indiana, Nevada and Wisconsin.
Few practiced social distancing but many of the protesters waved American flags.
'Live Free or Die'
Protesters have drawn encouragement in certain Democratic-led states from tweets by Trump, who has said he favors a quick return to normal, though protests have also taken place in Republican-led states like New Hampshire and Texas.
The US has seen more coronavirus cases and deaths than any other country in the world -- with more than 734,000 confirmed infections and 38,800 fatalities as of Saturday evening.
The vast majority of Americans are under lockdown orders restricting public movement and keeping all but essential businesses closed.
In Concord, demonstrators carried signs with slogans like "The numbers lie" and "Reopen New Hampshire."
Their common demand was that the stay-at-home order for the state of 1.3 million people be called off before its scheduled May 4 end date.
Others, amid a sea of American flags, chanted the state's Revolutionary War-era slogan, "Live Free or Die."
"People are very happy on a voluntary basis to do what's necessary," one demonstrator, 63-year-old Skip Murphy, told AFP by phone.
He added, however, that "the data does not support the egregious lockdown we are having in New Hampshire."
As of early Friday, New Hampshire had reported 1,287 confirmed coronavirus cases and 37 deaths.Agence France-Presse
Trump, in a rare Oval Office address to the nation on Wednesday night, said the month-long restriction on travel would begin late on Friday, at midnight. After days of playing down the coronavirus threat, he blamed Europe for not acting quickly enough to address the "foreign virus” and claimed that US clusters were "seeded” by European travellers.
Brought forward by Trump at the outdoor briefing, Fauci said his projection of a potential 100,000 to 200,000 deaths is "entirely conceivable" if not enough is done to mitigate the crisis.
Abe and Trump held talks by phone for about 45 minutes from around 10am (0100 GMT), Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said. "Two leaders exchanged views on each country's COVID-19 situation, steps to prevent further spread of the virus, development of medicine."
Three members of the White House coronavirus task force, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, placed themselves in quarantine after contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, another stark reminder that not even one of the nation’s most secure buildings is immune from the virus.
Aouissaoui had gone to the Notre-Dame church soon after arriving in Nice on Thursday morning looking for a place to sleep, his sister Afef said. He had shown them the area and said he planned to rest in a building opposite the church.
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Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan said that earlier Dr Siddiqui had reservations over filing the mercy petition, but now she has signed it and the petition was being sent to the US president through the jail authorities.