“Virus knows no political ideology”: Newsom urges Californians to practice physical distancing after Huntington Beach rally

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A protester holds up a sign during a rally in Huntington Beach on April 17, 2020 (OC Hawk)

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 “LIBERATE” Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia.

Newsom had a clear message for the protesters: “When you practice your freedom of speech, what I don’t [just] kiss, I celebrate – do it safe, ”he 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.

“This 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, ”Newsom said. “Practice 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.

“Even 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, ”the 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.

“We’re going to do whatever it takes. Don’t judge by politics, don’t judge by protest, but by science, ”Newsom said.

He said the state’s guiding principle would be “the facts on the ground”.

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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