Reopen NC coronavirus lockdown protesters gather after organizer says she had COVID-19

The group gathers in the capital city every Tuesday

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"Reopen NC" protesters in North Carolina are demanding to get back to work after weeks of lockdown orders because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Reopen NC rally on Tuesday, which is the same day that state legislators returned to Raleigh, included tense exchanges with both counterprotesters wearing scrubs and police.

The group has gathered in the capital city every Tuesday since mid-April and they have made headlines this week when one of its organizers, Audrey Whitlock, said she had contracted coronavirus. Whitlock later clarified she had never attended a Reopen NC rally and quarantined for two weeks.

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Like many demonstrations in other states, Reopen NC has faced criticism after many rallygoers failed to adhere to social distancing guidelines or wear masks.

"North Carolinians and Americans are intelligent, and we can make our own health decisions," Reopen NC organizer Ashley Smith told FOX Business earlier in April.

The state has more than 9,500 confirmed cases of coronavirus. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, has extended stay-at-home orders until May 8.

Similar protests are planned in Illinois on Friday and Oregon on Saturday.

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An Illinois court ruled against Gov. J.B. Pritzker in a case brought by a Republican state lawmaker seeking a temporary restraining order against the state's stay-at-home order aimed at stopping the coronavirus — a ruling that applies only to the one lawmaker but could have wider consequences if others try to follow suit.

"As far as opening up the country, the state today, we are not focused on when the country should open," Austin Davies, a spokesperson for the organizers of the Illinois rally, told FOX Business. "We’re focused on everyone having their constitutional rights intact, having the choice to decide when they think it is safe to come out of stay-at-home orders and open up their businesses."

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