Coronavirus: Governors ask Trump to call off lockdown protests


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Democratic governors have asked the White House to urge Americans to heed stay-at-home orders amid anti-lockdown protests stoked by the president.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said the "phenomenon was nationwide" and asked for "help on the national level".

President Donald Trump has been accused of inciting insurrection after championing the demonstrators, while telling governors they were in charge.

The plea comes amid 782,159 confirmed US Covid-19 cases and 41,816 deaths.

The protesters – who say the Covid-19 restrictions are draconian – are largely conservative and pro-Trump.

As one militia leader in Illinois put it to the BBC: "Reopen my state or we will reopen it ourselves."

The demonstrations have taken place in more than a dozen states from coast to coast, varying in size from a few dozen protesters to more than 2,000.

What did the governors say?

Ms Whitmer, a Democrat whose state has seen one of the largest anti-lockdown protests, told the White House during Monday's call she knew citizens were "frustrated" and called protesting a "wonderful American tradition".

"But it's just so dangerous to do that," she said, noting the fear of Covid-19 cases spiking in less-affected regions of her state, which has the third-highest infection rate in the nation.

Ms Whitmer said having the federal government "reiterate the importance of staying home until we get these numbers down… would be incredibly appreciated".

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North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, also a Democrat, echoed the same, requesting the Trump administration "let the public know that it is important for us to reach these minimum thresholds, before we began easing restrictions".

Vice-President Mike Pence, head of the coronavirus task force, promised the governors the administration would do so.

"We will make a point today and going forward to continue to reiterate that," Mr Pence said.

What has President Trump said?

The Republican president has expressed his support of the protesters in recent days, even as state governors say they are following White House guidance for safely reopening in phases.

Mr Trump – who faces an election in November – last week tweeted in all capital letters for several states to be liberated.

At Sunday's coronavirus briefing he said those protesting against their governors' social distancing measures were "great people".

"Their life was taken away from them," he said. "These people love our country, they want to get back to work."

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