‘Liberate’ Virginia, Michigan, and Minnesota

States hard-hit by the virus such as MI have been rocked by protests in recent days from angry Americans who claim extended shelter-in-place orders impinge on their constitutional rights.

In a series of Twitter missives, the president called for Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia to be "liberated", and went so far as to claim that Virginia was "under siege". The state's Governor, Ralph Northam, signed new laws last week that expanded background checks and imposed new limits on gun purchases.

All three states have had recent protests of their respective stay-at-home orders. Some protesters also brought Confederate flags, despite MI being part of the Union during the Civil War. They have been egged on by conservative media hosts such as Fox News's Jeanine Pirro, who said: "What happened in Lansing [Michigan] today, God bless them: it's going to happen all over the country". Trump also shared the messages on his Facebook page.

The decision to reopen states, for the most part, is now up to the governors.

Trump's calls to action in support of state-based protests would also appear to contradict both Twitter and Facebook's new rules specific to the pandemic, which in both cases explicitly forbid any COVID-19 content that could result in the real-world spread of the virus.

Ted Lieu, a Democratic congressman, tweeted in response: "Dear @realDonaldTrump: Michigan does not meet the criteria you set for phase 1 reopening". "Stop tweeting. People are dying".

MI has taken big hits in both coronavirus cases and job losses and is a critical battleground state in the presidential election.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during a speech in Lansing on April 13, 2020.

In Washington state, meanwhile, which for now has brought one of the worst outbreaks in the country under a measure of control, a Republican State committeeman, Tyler Miller, has organized a protest at the state capitol on Saturday.

Outside the state capitol building, some chanted "Lock her up", a throwback to Mr Trump's calls during the 2016 election about his rival Hillary Clinton. One woman held a sign reading "Heil Whitmer".

The protests have earned comparisons with the Tea Party movement of a decade ago and more are expected in coming days, with the tension between public health and economic reopening viewed through an increasingly partisan lens. It's not just, 'Isn't it wonderful to stay at home?' They're suffering.

At Thursday's White House coronavirus taskforce briefing, Trump was asked if he would urge protesters to listen to local authorities. "They weigh heavily on me", Whitmer said.

Even if states are showing a trajectory in that direction, they must do so for another two weeks, according to the president's plan.

"There's a price that's paid and I know that there are a lot of businesses and people that are hurting right now, but the fact of the matter is it's better to be six feet apart than six feet under and that is the whole point of this", she continued. And my opinion is the same as just about all of the governors. Nobody wants to stay shut, but they want to open safely.

Some people thought the tweets were inappropriate, with many Trump opponents tweeting that America should liberate itself from Trump.

And just minutes after sending out his three "liberate" messages, he criticized Gov. Andrew Cuomo of NY; suggested that states, not the federal government, need to "step up" testing for the disease; and called the Obama administration a "disaster" because "17,000 people died" in the US during the H1N1 crisis.

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