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Gov. Gavin Newsom urged Californians to practice physical distancing on Saturday after a protest against stay-at-home orders aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus drew large crowds in Huntington Beach.
Protesters, some dressed in red, white and blue, carried placards and flags on Friday and called for an end to state orders that kept residents indoors as the coronavirus spread through California. The virus has sickened nearly 29,000 people, left thousands in hospitalizations and killed 1,072 deaths statewide in just a few months.
Many were holding signs supporting President Donald Trump, who on Twitter urged his supporters to âLIBERATEâ Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia.
Newsom had a clear message for the protesters: âWhen you practice your freedom of speech, what I don’t [just] kiss, I celebrate – do it safe, âhe told a press conference on Saturday.
The governor said he was not surprised by the rally and imagines there will be more, but urged residents to be careful not to spread COVID-19.
âThis virus knows no political ideology. He doesn’t know if you are a Republican or a Democrat, that you support the president, that you oppose the president, âNewsom said. âPractice physical distancing. Make sure you don’t infect others. Even if you feel healthy, you have no symptoms, you are asymptomatic. You can broadcast that.
Videos from Friday’s Huntington Beach rally showed a large group of people gathering, many not wearing protective face covers.
âEven if you don’t care about other strangers, you can care about your loved ones. You can go home after participating in one of these gatherings – just be healthy, be safe, âthe governor said.
Protesters in Huntington Beach have claimed stay-at-home orders are an unnecessary overreaction, despite several studies that have predicted a much lower rate of coronavirus infections with social distancing measures in place.
âWe’re going to do whatever it takes. Don’t judge by politics, don’t judge by protest, but by science, âNewsom said.
He said the state’s guiding principle would be âthe facts on the groundâ.
Newsom earlier this week set six goals that must be met in order to ease current restrictions on travel. These include expanding the state’s testing capacity, protecting the most vulnerable, meeting the ongoing needs of hospitals preparing for a potential surge, working on the development of therapies and potentially a vaccine. and decide what physical distancing would look like when the controls are lifted.
Orders to curb the spread of the virus have left businesses closed, moved online schools, closed beaches and trails, drastically reduced travel and skyrocketed the state’s unemployment rate, with nearly 100 000 jobs lost in March.
But health experts across the country have warned that easing restrictions too soon will cause the virus to spread rapidly across states. In Los Angeles County, a study predicted that nearly 96% of the county’s population could be infected by the summer if social distancing measures ceased.
Asked whether Trump’s message contradicted his own, the governor said: “The president has made it clear, publicly and in private, that the governors of every state in our union will rely on our guidelines.”
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