Coronavirus lockdown protests expand to 20 states as economic woes mount

More rallies are scheduled in states including Missouri, Pennsylvania and Maine this week

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Tennessee and Arizona became the 19th and 20th states to see demonstrations against shelter-in-place orders in response to the coronavirus, as a group gathered to wave American flags and hold signs in Nashville Sunday while others protested in cars near the state capitol building in Phoenix.

Gatherings also took place Sunday in Colorado and Washington.

More rallies are scheduled this week in states including Missouri, Pennsylvania and Maine.

The protests come as massive job losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic continue to mount — total unemployment claims over the four weeks ending on April 11 have hit nearly 22 million.

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The Nashville gathering was organized by a group called #FreeTN, which has more than 6,000 members on Facebook.

"Social distancing is not the new way of life for Tennesseeans," #FreeTN organizer Kimberly Edwards told FOX Business.

A video shared on Facebook showed drivers honking and displaying flags Sunday in Phoenix as organizers tried to create traffic "gridlock."

Some demonstrators have ignored social distancing while others remain in their cars to avoid spreading the virus. Chants of "Fire Fauci" could be heard at an Austin, Texas, rally that drew about 300 people on Saturday, according to the Austin Statesman-Reporter. In Annapolis, Maryland, protesters stuck to a safer drive-through method on Saturday, WBALTV reported.

Some of the first protests to pop up, in so-called purple states North Carolina and Michigan, involved residents raising an outcry against Democratic governors. But the trend has spread to red states as well, Reopen Missouri organizer Josh Schisler told FOX Business.

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Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, has extended the state's lockdown until May 3. The state has reported 5,517 coronavirus cases and 175 deaths.

"There’s been even more frustration than ever since the lockdown has been extended, that someone who is supposed to be a Republican governor — a lot of people are frustrated he's not listening to what the president has to say," Schisler said. "The silent majority is not going to stay so silent anymore."

Reaction to the pandemic has put Missouri's most vulnerable people at more risk because it's harder for them to get necessities, Schisler said. He decided to speak out against the lockdown after spending a week volunteering in New York City earlier in April.

"Rally Against the Lockdown" is scheduled for Tuesday in Jefferson City, Missouri, and although the event will be open-air, Schisler said he will be "encouraging people to comply with social distancing."

Many regarded the protests as fringe movements at first, but now the let-us-get-back-to-work sentiment has caught the attention of the nation's top politicians. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the demonstrations "unfortunate" on "Fox News Sunday."

"What we have to do is shelter in place. ... But, you know, people will do what they do. But the fact is, we're all impatient. We all want out. But what they're doing is really unfortunate," Pelosi said.

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States with rallies scheduled for later in April include:

  • Pennsylvania (April 20)
  • North Dakota (April 20)
  • Connecticut (April 20)
  • Maine (April 20)
  • Missouri (April 21)
  • Wisconsin (April 24)
  • Tennessee (April 27)

States that have already had rallies include:

  • North Carolina
  • Texas
  • Michigan
  • Florida
  • California
  • New Hampshire
  • Maryland
  • Kentucky
  • Minnesota
  • Virginia
  • Idaho
  • Oregon
  • Nevada
  • Colorado
  • Oklahoma
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Utah
  • Tennessee
  • Arizona

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