Donald Trump calls on three US states to 'liberate' themselves from coronavirus lockdown

Donald Trump dramatically called on three Democrat-led US states to ‘liberate’ themselves from ongoing coronavirus lockdowns just a day after leaving the task to governors.

Trump tweeted Friday: ‘LIBERATE MINNESOTA! LIBERATE MICHIGAN! LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!.’ All three states have Democrat governors, with the Virginia tweet also taking aim at Governor Ralph Northam’s crackdown on gun ownership rights. Last week, Northam introduced new measures including expanded background checks and limiting sales of handguns to one per person per month.

The president went on to take aim at his home state of New York after by attacking its Governor Andrew Cuomo, writing: ‘Governor Cuomo should spend more time “doing” and less time “complaining”. Get out there and get the job done. Stop talking!

‘We built you thousands of hospital beds that you didn’t need or use, gave large numbers of Ventilators that you should have had, and helped you with testing that you should be doing. We have given New York far more money, help and equipment than any other state, by far, & these great men & women who did the job never hear you say thanks. Your numbers are not good. Less talk and more action!’

Trump erupted hours after he refused to condemn ongoing protests at multiple state capitol buildings across the US, with activists calling for a reversal of ongoing lockdowns which have seen thousands of businesses close and over 20 million Americans left out of work. Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, he unveiled an ‘Opening Up American Again’ plan which would see states gradually end lockdown in three phases after certain targets related to diagnoses numbers, testing and intensive care bed availability are met. Trump said those decisions would be left to individual state governors.

His call to action is likely to see protesters congregate in defiance of social distancing guidelines stipulated by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, which has seen large gatherings banned or strongly discouraged in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus. Trump called on Michigan rebels to ‘liberate’ their state even though it has been one of the worst-hit by coronavirus, with over 29,000 diagnoses and 2,000 Covid-19 deaths by Friday afternoon.

Governor of Michigan Gretchen Whitmer was confronted by hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters – many of them waving pro-Trump slogans – during a protest called ‘Operation Gridlock’, which saw protesters block traffic and cause widespread disruption. Those rallies were organized by right-wing groups the Michigan Conservative Coalition and the Michigan Freedom Fund.

Further protests have so far taken place at state capitol buildings in Kentucky, North Carolina as well as Ohio, with one photo taken at its state capital Columbus showing protesters pressing themselves against a glass-paneled door.

Close to 680,000 people have so-far been diagnosed with coronavirus in the US, with over 35,000 dying with Covid-19.

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